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Privacy Technology

Kentucky Man Arrested After Shooting Down Drone 1197

McGruber writes: Hillview, Kentucky resident William H. Merideth describes his weekend: "Sunday afternoon, the kids – my girls – were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard. And they come in and said, 'Dad, there's a drone out here, flying over everybody's yard.'" Merideth's neighbors saw it too. "It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off," said neighbor Kim VanMeter. Merideth grabbed his shotgun and waited to see if the drone crossed over his property. When it did, he took aim and shot it out of the sky.

The owners showed up shortly, and the police right after. He was arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment before being released the next day. Merideth says he will pursue legal action against the drone's owner: "He didn't just fly over. If he had been moving and just kept moving, that would have been one thing -- but when he come directly over our heads, and just hovered there, I felt like I had the right. You know, when you're in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy. We don't know if he was looking at the girls. We don't know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing."
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Kentucky Man Arrested After Shooting Down Drone

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  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:17AM (#50204691)
    Here's a key detail from the article:

    Merideth's neighbors saw it too. "It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off," said neighbor Kim VanMeter. VanMeter has a 16-year-old daughter who lays out at their pool. She says a drone hovering with a camera is creepy and weird. "I just think you should have privacy in your own backyard," she said.

    • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @11:31AM (#50205913)

      Of course he has the right to privacy in his own backyard. How on earth could anybody question that?

      And yes, I personally also think that shooting down the drone was also justified. There should be jammers that bring down these things and it should be legal to possess and use them in the appropriate circumstances such as a drone hovering over your backyard.

  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:18AM (#50204701)
    Was he arrested, it appears simply for firing the gun. It isn't clear that the fact a drone was the target was a consideration.

    We'll see what he is eventually convicted of.
    • If your theory is correct, then if he chose another means to bring down this drone he'd be in the clear? slingshot? bow and arrow? One of you tech bright-bulbs should really consider establishing a drone extermination service. "Let *us* handle your drone infestation: Drokin(tm): Armed with net guns and our patented seeker/killer drones our Drokin techs arrive within an hour of your text and quietly depart with the offending device."
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:19AM (#50204707) Homepage
    The drone person was illegally trespassing on the shooter's property.

    In addition the shooter had no way to know with any reasonable degree of certainty that the 'drone' was unarmed. It could have been carrying an explosive device - and not just a gun as was recently seen, but actual c4 explosive.

    Finally, even if it was only containing a camera, it was still illegal violation of the shooter's rights and the shooter had the right to destroy the object.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:20AM (#50204715) Journal

    There has to be a better way to take down drones. Firing a shotgun in your backyard into the air is going to be some kind of misdemeanor, even in Kentucky. Something like "discharge of a firearm inside city limits" or something.

    Can someone please start 3D-printing some silent drone-killing weapons? It would be so much more satisfying than clay pigeons and my neighbors cats. (Note to neighbor: I'm kidding. That wasn't me.)

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:33AM (#50204967) Homepage
    then the judge should order him to pay the drone owner the cost of the drone, then fine the drone owner 10x that amount for violating that man's privacy.
  • by pehrs ( 690959 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:36AM (#50204999)

    Legally? I have no idea. Here I believe he could possibly be charged with destruction of property, unless zoning laws stated that he could not fire a shotgun. A shotgun fired upwards is very safe, the risk of anybody being hurt by a few birdshot coming down is minimal, so endangerment is only possibly from somebody being hit by the falling drone. And if that is a danger, what the heck is the drone doing flying over people anyway?

    Morally? It seems to me that a majority of the drone pilots are douche bags, completely ignoring other peoples right to privacy and even safety. Just because it is possible to fly their drones anywhere does not mean it is a good idea. If somebody flies their drone into my property, collecting video footage, I believe I have the moral right to do something about it. It is no different from if they started racing around a RC car with a video camera in my backyard. Sure, I could call the police, but the police is unlikely to show up in time. And what is the police supposed to do about a drone hovering over my house? Waste time around until they find the pilot? This is a perfect example of when a well aimed shotgun shot will help improve how people behave. If they don't want their drones shot down, they can fly them over their own property.

    • If they don't want their drones shot down, they can fly them over their own property.

      While I agree with your sentiment, I think you might be being a bit extreme here. There shouldn't be anything wrong with simply flying over to get from point A to point B. Hovering, lingering, making repeated passes, and, especially, hanging around until acknowledged, then taking off? Yeah, time for your toy to get shot down.

  • by bagboy ( 630125 ) <{ten.citcra} {ta} {oen}> on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:39AM (#50205073)
    1. Simply buy one of the many freq jammers amped up enough for about 200 feet and watch the drones fall out of the sky onto your property. 2. Become a drone collector and charge a property access fee for owners to retrieve their property. 3. Profit!
  • Forget the Drone (Score:4, Informative)

    by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:45AM (#50205163)
    The drone just muddles the issue because nerds are passionate about them.

    If a creep kept holding up a camera on a stick to videotape my daughters over my fence, I would put some bird shot in that camera as well.
  • Misleading headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:45AM (#50205165) Homepage

    Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can't fire your gun in the city.

    He wasn't charged for shooting a drone, he was charged to discharging a gun within city limits. Reckless endangerment doesn't have anything to do with drones it means he was being a risk to public safety.

    • he was charged to discharging a gun within city limits

      No he wasn't.

      "Long story short, after that, they took me to jail for wanton endangerment first degree and criminal mischief...because I fired the shotgun into the air."

      Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can't fire your gun in the city.

      "Well, we do have a city ordinance against discharging firearms in the city, but the officer made an arrest for a Kentucky Revised Statute violation," he said. (Emphasis mine.)

      These are basically catcha

  • by thbigr ( 514105 ) <thebigr314NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:52AM (#50205283) Journal

    So below are all the rules for flying an RC plane. Why don't we simply apply the rules to drones? As a matter of fact, you have to explain to me why the don't automatically apply anyway?

    Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
    Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
    Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
    Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
    Don't fly near people or stadiums
    Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
    Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft â" you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      So below are all the rules for flying an RC plane. Why don't we simply apply the rules to drones? As a matter of fact, you have to explain to me why the don't automatically apply anyway?

      Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
      Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
      Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
      Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
      Don't fly near people or stadiums
      D

  • by sgage ( 109086 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @10:58AM (#50205359)

    Meredith was totally within his rights - his private property was being invaded. Fuck the owners of the drone - they are idiots, and the true criminals in this case. If someone flies a drone over my property, it's toast. And I'll fight any legal nonsense that ensues right on up to the Supreme Court (for what that's worth). This has to be gotten under control, now. People have NO RIGHT to fly their drones over private property. They could be recording video, they could even be toting firearms. Shoot first, ask questions later.

  • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @11:09AM (#50205505)

    Hovering over my property without my invite? Expect to be blown out of the sky.. if I determine I can get the shot without having the wreck come down on top of my house.

    Alternatively, we can develop counter-drone drones, whose job would be to seek out unwanted drones and shoot them out of the sky.

    Or how about a net-gun? Throw a net at the offending drone, capture it, and if it survives, sell the shit on ebay.

    Brave new world, this one.

  • Truly Trespassing? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2015 @11:21AM (#50205707) Journal

    Many states require that a No Trespassing sign be posted for criminal trespass to occur. Kentucky does not require such a notice, but it DOES define trespassing in the first and third degress as being ulawfully *in a dwelling*. Second degree trespass is as close as he might get. I quoteth the law:

    A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree when he knowingly
    enters or remains unlawfully in a building or upon premises as to which notice
    against trespass is given by fencing or other enclosure.
    (2) Criminal trespass in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor.

    Emphasis is mine. As to whether a telepresence (drone) constitutes a "person...upon the premises" will no doubt be the subject for his lawyer and the prosecution to discuss. At several hundred dollars an hour.

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