New Mexico

Tasing of Native American Man at New Mexico National Monument Under Investigation

Darrell House said he was at Petroglyph National Monument to pray

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The National Park Service is reviewing a case in which a Native American man was tased by a park ranger at Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico, officials said.

Darrell House was stopped Sunday by the ranger for walking in a closed area off trail in violation of park regulations. Video taken by House shows the ranger asking for his identification. House declines, insisting he hadn’t done anything wrong.

The ranger told House he was refusing a lawful order and that he would have to be detained until he could be identified.

Video posted by House on social media then shows the ranger tasing House while he screams for help and rolls on the ground. The ranger repeatedly asks for him to put his hands behind his back as House raises his hands and at times folds them in front of his chest while still calling for help.

House, who said he was unarmed, eventually sits down as another ranger arrives and places him in handcuffs.

House was cited for interfering with agency functions, concealing his identity and being off trail, KOB-TV reported. House did not return messages from The Associated Press.

In his social media posts, House identified himself as Navajo and Oneida and said he goes to the monument to pray.

Situated along the western edge of Albuquerque, the monument encompasses one of North America's largest petroglyph sites. The volcanic rocks that make up the monument's desert escarpment are covered with designs and symbols carved by early Indigenous inhabitants and later Spanish settlers.

“I didn’t harm anyone,” House told the television station. “I didn’t cause any harm to anybody. I wasn’t disorderly. I wasn’t on any substances. This has been going for years. I’m practicing my religious rights on my ancestral land.”

Regional officials with the National Park Service told The Associated Press in a statement Monday that the case has been referred to the agency’s internal affairs unit for review.

“While we work to gather the facts of this specific situation, we cannot speculate on the events leading up to what was captured on video,” agency spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo said.

Lacayo noted that officers with the National Park Service undergo extensive training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia in addition to annual training.

House's video spurred criticism on social media and fueled ongoing nationwide concerns about excessive force by law enforcement. In Albuquerque, the city's police department has been the target of U.S. Justice Department oversight and court-ordered reforms for previous excessive force complaints.

The city's Office of Equity and Inclusion issued a statement Tuesday, calling the video disturbing. The office said it had reached out to the National Park Service and expected a thorough, transparent and speedy investigation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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