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Park Service says ranger who stunned Indigenous man acted 'consistent with agency policy'

Park Service says ranger who stunned Indigenous man acted 'consistent with agency policy'
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The National Park Service (NPS) has determined that a park ranger who was seen in a now-viral video shocking a Native American man with a stun gun acted in a manner “consistent with agency policy and appropriate given the totality of the circumstances.”

A Friday statement from NPS said that an internal affairs investigation found that before the officer used the stun gun, he tried to resolve the situation with a warning and made “repeated attempts to deescalate the interaction.”

The agency said that the ranger made contact after spotting two people off the trail on rocks containing petroglyphs, or rock carvings, at Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico.

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NPS accused the individuals of providing false names and birth dates to the officer. 

“The investigation determined that the law enforcement ranger's actions were consistent with agency policy and appropriate given the totality of the circumstances, including policy to preserve the significant cultural resources of the petroglyphs,” the agency said. 

The man who was shocked with the stun gun has been identified by multiple outlets as Darrell House. House posted a video of the incident on Instagram. 

“This could have been a civil interaction. The law doesn’t work for the Indigenous. The government doesn’t give a shit about us. This was uncalled for. You see I’m clearly on the trail. I explained my reason for being off trail (which I shouldn’t have too.) If anyone has the right to be off trail and wonder this land, it’s the NATIVE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY!” House said in his post from December. 

Footage of the incident shows the officer telling House to put down a dog he is carrying. House does not do so, and shouts for help, after which the ranger stuns him. 

The officer continues to stun House while telling him to “show me your hands.” 

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In the footage, House tells the officer, “I don’t have anything.”

The Hill reached out to House, who responded in a message saying he has retained counsel. 

"What happened to me was not only uncalled for, it was also traumatic and an example of abuse of power that goes unchecked. It is one more example of escalated violence against Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Two Spirit and Gender-non conforming peoples that would be invisible but for social media," House said.

In the new statement, NPS Regional Director Mike Reynolds said the agency "remains committed to respecting the rights and dignity of every individual."

"This incident provided a learning experience for us to build on how we incorporate Tribal and Pueblo perspectives in our everyday work,” Reynolds added. “In the months ahead, we will be working with the Pueblo and Tribal communities to develop ways to better coordinate use of the area for ceremonial and religious purposes.”

Updated at 7:35 p.m.