Man files lawsuit after 2020 tasing at Petroglyph National Monument

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A 2020 viral video of a National Park ranger tasing a Native man in New Mexico has now sparked legal action. 

The incident happened almost exactly two years ago at the Petroglyph National Monument, as Darrell House says he was walking and praying with his sister and dog. House’s attorneys say he was unarmed and posed no threat to the rangers or anyone else.

“It was an uncalled for incident that could’ve gone differently had the NPS officer not chosen to escalate the situation the way it did,” said Natali Segovia, legal director for Water Protector Legal Collective, representing House.

The recently filed 48-page lawsuit against the National Park Service, the City of Albuquerque, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and others, alleges rangers violated their duty to not use excessive force, and cites the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, designed to provide broad protection for religious liberty.

“It’s not just a local issue, this is something indigenous peoples have had to endure in the US for centuries,” said Segovia. “This case is definitely brought for justice for Darrell House, but it’s also brought to shed light on these types of injustices that would be completely invisible if it were not for social media.”

The three citations rangers wrote for House and his sister that day were later dismissed. But attorneys say they issued a finding in March 2021 that the officers had not done anything wrong and acted within NPS policy. 

Attorneys say justice for House can come in many forms, from an apology, to monetary penalties, to other considerations.

“We’re looking for judicial review of that NPS decision of that finding of no wrongdoing and ultimately hopefully a conversation about stewardship and it’s time for that to be considered. Indigenous people want a seat at the table,” said Segovia.