One of the hottest legal topics these days is the subject of drone regulation. As drones become more popular, they are also becoming a nuisance. There have even been several incidents around major airports that have involved drones. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is addressing the problems involved with flying them, but many believe the problems are not being addressed fast enough. One man in Kentucky decided not to wait around for drone legislation and took the matter into his own hands.
In July of 2015, William Merideth, a property owner in Hillview, Kentucky, felt his privacy was being violated when a low flying drone cruised over his property several times below the tree level. Merideth decided the best course of action was to use a shotgun and bring the UAV down. He was subsequently arrested for discharging a firearm inside city limits and summoned to appear before the city court.
The judge in the case, the Honorable Judge Ward, heard testimony from three other neighbors that said the DJI Phantom 3 camera equipped drone was flying very low around the neighborhood that day. The drone’s owner, David Bogg (Merideth’s neighbor too apparently), submitted telemetry evidence to the court that he says proves the drone never flew below 200 feet. Bogg also claimed it was the drone’s maiden flight with him at the controls.
Judge Ward only took 20 minutes to dismiss the charges against Meredith and, according to Bogg, never even looked at the video. Bogg also claimed that even the arresting officers were surprised that the judge did not at least consider looking at the video. Merideth said there was no way to determine the authenticity of the information in the video and he felt vindicated by the judge’s fair decision.
Drones can be dangerous especially in the hands of untrained operators. If you're injured by a drone or other aircraft, please contact Catania, Mahon Milligam & Rider for legal consultation.