ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The National Park Service is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a Native American who was tased in the Petroglyphs. Darrell House said a park ranger used excessive force when he was tased while looking for a place to pray three years ago.

The incident happened in 2020 when the park ranger tased Navajo and Oneida Marine veteran Darrell House. The park ranger was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing but House filed a lawsuit last December. “”It’s the physical and the emotional and psychological. And also, this is representative of what has happened to indigenous peoples being policed on ancestral and sacred lands for centuries,” said Executive Director Natali Segovia in 2020.

Story continues below

House claimed he was hiking with his sister and dog when he told park rangers he stepped off the trail to social distance from other hikers. A ranger told him to get back on the designated path and House said he complied with those orders. But when the ranger began asking him for identification, House refused to answer and eventually gave a fake name.

Now, the National Park Service is asking a federal judge to dismiss the case. Federal attorneys point during the incident, House stated he was socially distancing from other hikers. But in the lawsuit, House stated he went off trail to find a place to pray on sacred land. “To recognize the rights, particularly of indigenous people to pray in their sacred on sacred land and on sacred territory. And to be sensitive to that and the history of that,” said House’s lawyer Jeffrey Haas.

Federal attorneys also point out that House never told the park ranger he was trying to pray and that’s why he was off trail. The motion also claims the complaint lacks any allegation that the National Park Service standard prohibition on walking off trail imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion.

The park rangers and the Park Service are also asking the case be dismissed because the rangers were doing their jobs and things only escalated when House didn’t follow instructions and was not truthful.

House was issued citations for walking off trail, refusing to provide truthful information, and obstructing law enforcement functions. His attorneys have not yet responded to the latest filings in federal court.