Wilson Wong and Rima Abdelkader and Ali Gostanian-Tue, December 29, 2020, 1:14 PM EST
A park ranger was seen on video using a stun gun on a Native American man who was walking his dog with his sister at a national monument in New Mexico on Sunday.
The man, Darrell House, who is Oneida and Navajo, said he went for a stroll with his sister and his dog Sunday afternoon at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, where, he said, he often prays and meditates in honor of the land and his ancestors.
House said he stepped off the trail to maintain social distancing from an approaching group of hikers when a park ranger ran behind him and warned him to stay on the path.
In a short video recorded by House, the ranger can be heard asking House, a former Marine, for his identification, which House said he initially refused to provide before he gave a false identity. The officer can be seen warning the man that he would be detained if he did not ID himself.
“I didn’t see a reason to give my identification. I don’t need to tell people why I’m coming there to pray and give things in honor to the land. I don’t need permission or consent,” House said. “And I don’t think he liked that very much.”
Tensions escalated, with the ranger seen in another video his sister recorded repeatedly stunning House to the ground while he cries for help.
In the video, House’s sister can be heard pleading for the ranger to stop.
“I don’t have anything,” House says between screams. “I apologize for going off the trail.”
The ranger, who has not been publicly identified, directs House to sit on the ground as he appears to drag the dog by the leash toward House’s sister.
“You’re being detained because you refused to identify yourself,” the ranger says. “If you resist, I will Tase you.”
Another officer can be seen handcuffing House before the video cuts out.
NBC News does not know what happened before or after what’s shown in the video, and the identities of the rangers in the video have not been confirmed.
Vanessa Lacayo, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, said in an email that the agency is investigating.
“We take any allegation of wrongdoing very seriously, and appreciate the public’s patience as we gather the facts of this incident,” Lacayo said.
Lacayo said all park officers complete extensive law enforcement training and are required to undergo special training to carry Tasers.
House said he was arrested and ticketed for three citations: interfering with agency function and resisting, being off trail and giving false identity information.
House, who had grown up on a reservation, said he has never run into an issue or encountered a ranger on the hiking trail, where he will often perform his rituals, like offering tobacco and stirring sage.
“We don’t have a set time, we don’t have set places, we don’t have buildings, and we don’t have things built to worship,” House said. “Nature is what we’ve been worshipping … and protecting it has always been our job.”
“I am Native, you know. I have rights to this land. I have rights off the trail,” he said.