What started as a normal summer day for the 16-year-old daughter of William Merideth of Louisville, Kentucky, would be the beginning of a saga that still has not yet been resolved and is part of a growing conversation about privacy and security.
Merideth's daughter was sunbathing out on the deck, well within the privacy of her own home. He claims that the drone was hovering in his backyard, and it wasn't the first time this had happened.
Fearing that his daughter had been targeted by a high tech Peeping Tom, Merideth grabbed his shotgun and took aim at the aircraft.
Merideth took three shots using shells containing number 8 birdshot, effectively bringing down the $1,800 drone.
"It was just right there," Merideth told Ars Technica in an interview. "It was hovering, I would never have shot it if it was flying. When he came down with a video camera right over my back deck, that's not going to work. I know they're neat little vehicles, but one of those uses shouldn't be flying into people's yards and videotaping."
But that wasn't the end of the story.
When the drone's operators showed up at Merideth's house, the homeowner was now wearing a holstered pistol and told Ars Technica he told them, "If you cross that sidewalk onto my property, there's going to be another shooting."
The police arrived shortly thereafter, and Merideth—not the drone operator—was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal mischief and first-degree wanton endangerment. Both of the crimes Merideth has been charged with carry a sentence of 1-5 years in prison, plus fines.
Merideth, who was released from police custody one day after the arrest, is confident that the charges will be dismissed, but evidence from the drone's owner may persuade the court that Merideth doesn't have a leg to stand on.
The drone's owner released information regarding the aircraft's flight path that had been collected on his iPad.
At the time the drone was shot down, the data shows, the drone was nearly 200 feet in the air and crossed over Merideth's property in a matter of seconds. The intended target of the drone, the operator claims, were his friends' houses who lived on either side of Merideth. The drone was nearly off of Merideth's property when
Additionally, the drone's owner had also captured video of Merideth's belligerance at the time of the arrest.
"No, I'm not going to relax!" Merideth can be heard saying to the arresting officer. "I don't give a **** about him. And I don't give a **** about your ****ing drone and you keep video taping. I know exactly what I did." Merideth turned to the camera, addressing it directly at the end.
This case is similar to one that happened in California in 2014. A man was flying a drone on his parent's property, only to be shot out of the sky by a neighbor who reportedly believed it to belong to the CIA. The civil court sided with the drone owner, but the neighbor has not yet paid to replace the damaged aircraft.
In 2013, the FAA warned that shooting drones out of the sky could result in criminal or civil charges.
However, the fact that drones could be used for illegal surveillance is a conversation worth having, and one that shows the FAA might need to update their rules concerning drones.
Meredith is due to appear in court in September to face his charges.
Check out the update on the story from local news channel WDRB:
[H/T: The Daily Dot]
[Header image: iStockphoto]