Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
The Courts Privacy

Judge: Defendant 'Had a Right' To Shoot Down Drone (wdrb.com) 620

EzInKy writes: Back in July, Kentucky resident William Merideth was arrested after he shot down a drone flying near his property. The arrest wasn't because of the destroyed drone, but because Merideth fired a gun within the city limits. Now, after a two-hour hearing in Bullitt District Court, a judge has dismissed all charges against Merideth. The owner of the drone, David Boggs, has always contested Merideth's claim that it was hovering over his yard. "But Judge Rebecca Ward says that since at least two witnesses could see the drone below the tree line, it was an invasion of privacy." Ward further said that Merideth "had a right to shoot at this drone."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Judge: Defendant 'Had a Right' To Shoot Down Drone

Comments Filter:
  • Even from a hand gun like a 9mm, you are talking over a mile when shot upwards at the wrong angle. Forward velocity does not drop below killing velocity before downwards acceleration causes the bullet to hit the ground or some low object.

    This was a very dangerous action.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @05:40AM (#50808115)

      He used a shotgun, not a 9mm.

      • by Kkloe ( 2751395 )
        Problem is, people will read: I can shoot down a drone now, and they will use other things than a shotgun because they are dumb idiots
        how much I am against idiots who dont respect other peoples privacy this will probably lead to innocent being hurt
        • Maybe it's time for the Feds to come in and charge Merideth with Interfering With the Operation of an Aircraft. If there is this big a brouhaha over a toy quadracopter, can you imagine the chaos if we ever get flying cars?

        • Problem is, people will read: I can shoot down a drone now, and they will use other things than a shotgun because they are dumb idiots

          One of the strangest things I've found is that the most passionate gun lovers I know, all think that drones should be banned.

          I'd love a discussion on the second amendment aspects of weaponized personal drones. Do we have the right to use a drone only as long as we have afirearm attached to it?

          Is not allowing weaponized drones an example of the federal government and anti-gun forces interfering in our rights?

    • by areusche ( 1297613 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @05:50AM (#50808135)
      Then don't fly your drone over your neighbor's property after a friendly warning is given.
      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        Over is some understatement. If they are talking about bellow tree line, it must have been really low, maybe a couple of meters above ground. I guess it is only natural people will feel threatened by such a large unnatural "mosquito". I would.
    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @06:14AM (#50808215)

      If he could hit a flying drone with a 9mm, he was either an extremely good shooter . . . or incredibly lucky. At the gun club ("Schützenverein") that I visit there are some ex German Army folks who could shoot the ears off a fly. They would not be able to do this to a drone with a 9mm.

      The defendant in this case used a shotgun with bird shot: totally innocuous over long range.

      This was a very dangerous action.

      No, it wasn't. And this is what prevents serious gun legislation in the US: Too many people talking about something they know nothing about. This is a free lunch for the NRA: The people proposing new gun legislation don't even know the difference between bird shot or a 9mm. When these folks get around being unable to know the difference between their asses and their elbows, they could propose tighter gun restriction legislation that even the NRA would agree to.

      Actually, serious drone pilots and gun folks have something in common: They follow a simple rule of "Don't be an asshole!" I don't fly my RC critters anywhere which would bother other folks. Gun folks don't shoot in any areas that could put other folks in danger.

      Really simple, actually, and could be applied to virtually any device that two-legged critters can control or carry: "Don't be an asshole!"

      But, apparently, that is too difficult for a lot of folks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bankman ( 136859 )

        "Don't be an asshole!" as a behavioural rule only works when it is safe to assume that the vast majority of the population aren't in fact assholes. Empirical evidence (ie. elections, polls, daily news) unfortunately suggest otherwise.

        • Empirical evidence (ie. elections, polls, daily news) unfortunately suggest otherwise.

          An anecdote is not empirical evidence. The only thing that you have shown with your statement is that you do not understand the difference. A curated collection of anecdotes is still not empirical evidence. The difference that you seem to have missed is a little issue with selection bias.

          Clearly the vast majority of the population are in fact, not, assholes. Otherwise we could assume that every collaborative aspect of soci

        • Traffic and Recreational Sports, two environments that will bubble assholes to the surface in less than 10 minutes.
      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        The defendant in this case used a shotgun with bird shot: totally innocuous over long range.

        Depending on your definition of "long range", birds might disagree on how innocuous it is.

        • I would probably say beyond about 100 meters and for sure beyond about 200. When I started shooting shotguns I was taught that they really aren't effective with bird shot much beyond 50 meters but then I was using 2 3/4" #6 pheasant loads (lead).
      • My yard has 6 other yards along the borders. Am I not allowed to fly my "drone"* in my own yard? Because it's certainly visible below the tree line by lots of people in the area. Legally I'm allowed up to 100 feet (due to proximity to airports) in my own yard. If I'm just out sport flying in the back yard and someone shot my "drone" down I would be fucking pissed. Not only for damage but danger to myself and family.

        If I where hovering at say 50 feet over my yard it would be easy to mistake it as a drone wit

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Well, if your yard has 6 other yards along the borders, and you like to fly your whirligig in your backyard, is it a problem for you to neighborly wander by their homes, and say:

          "Hello there! I'm your neighbor! I like to fly a whirligig in my backyard. If that annoys you in any way, please just call me, or just come by. Wanna beer?"

          But you've certainly down that, haven't you . . . ?

    • He used a shotgun with birdshot. Chiming in on something you know nothing about makes you look like a moron.
    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Your presenting your argument inaccurately. The bullet velocity on impact will depend upon several variables, and while it could possibly still kill someone, it's very unlikely. Google is your friend on this issue.

    • You've already been refuted factually as far as what was shot, but I'd also point out that bullets fired upward quickly tumble and lose their aerodynamic (ballistic) orientation by the time they are falling. Tumbling bullets have a terminal velocity of 300 feet per second, which would certainly hurt but are extremely unlikely to kill anyone.

      Note: bullets fired at 45 deg elevation are far more likely to maintain spin for longer, and are thus more dangerous. Unlikely to be firing this low at a drone, though

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @05:28AM (#50808087)

    I think part of the problem with justice is it doesn't fit neatly in people's ideas on how things should work politically.
    Guns are bad, however his privacy and property was threatened and the causality was not a life.
    He used a gun as a tool to solve a problem.

    Now if there was a person who got shot the justice system may have tilted the other direction.

    • however his privacy and property was threatened

      His privacy was no more threatened than it is by aviation; anyone who files a flight plan can legally overfly him, and nothing prevents them from taking pictures as they go. And his property was not threatened; he shot down the drone, it was not revealed to be a firebomb.

      Now if there was a person who got shot the justice system may have tilted the other direction.

      There is a public interest in restricting the use of firearms within city limits and the like to actual emergencies. This wasn't one of those.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        anyone who files a flight plan can legally overfly him

        Above 500 feet.

        • by harl ( 84412 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @11:03AM (#50810041)
          Since it was a group of houses 91.119b is more applicable so it would be 1000 ft.
      • however his privacy and property was threatened

        His privacy was no more threatened than it is by aviation; anyone who files a flight plan can legally overfly him, and nothing prevents them from taking pictures as they go.

        They cannot legally fly below the treeline, which, if you read even the summary, you'll find was a major point of the judgement.

        And his property was not threatened; he shot down the drone, it was not revealed to be a firebomb.

        Whether it was threatening or not is irrelevant. You don't get to invade my backyard and then cry about how you aren't threatening.

        Now if there was a person who got shot the justice system may have tilted the other direction.

        There is a public interest in restricting the use of firearms within city limits and the like to actual emergencies. This wasn't one of those.

        Unfortunately for you you're wrong: it was found that the downside of firing birdshot into the air is less than the downside of allowing drone operators to film someone else's backyard. Both are downsides but a court felt that the value of having one outweighed the value of having the other.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by N1AK ( 864906 )

          Unfortunately for you you're wrong: it was found that the downside of firing birdshot into the air is less than the downside of allowing drone operators to film someone else's backyard. Both are downsides but a court felt that the value of having one outweighed the value of having the other.

          I hope that wasn't what happened in this case. If the law says firing a gun within the city is illegal then it should be illegal regardless of other criminality in the vicinity. If defending your property is a clear exce

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @07:33AM (#50808527)

            If the law says firing a gun within the city is illegal then it should be illegal regardless of other criminality in the vicinity.

            People like you are why a law making it illegal to yell, "fire!" in a crowded theater actually has to spell out that it's legal when there is a fire. Because if it didn't, you would find yourself unable to apply common sense to the situation and find some poor sap guilty of the crime when he was really doing everyone a service. I'm not sure what causes it, but the inability to evaluate rules in context is a plague on our society. It leads to zero tolerance policies where kids get expelled for taking bites out of a Pop Tart in the wrong order [washingtonpost.com]. IMHO people who make rules like that are a threat to society orders of magnitude worse than the people their rules are supposed to effect.

          • I hope that wasn't what happened in this case. If the law says firing a gun within the city is illegal then it should be illegal regardless of other criminality in the vicinity. If defending your property is a clear exception to the law then what happened here is that it was decided that this shooting fell within that definition.

            You don't understand the purpose of laws then. Laws are implemented in order to try to cover common circumstances. However, it needs to be interpreted when extreme cases occur (in gray area). Once a verdict is ruled for those cases by a court, the verdict can be used as precedence for latter circumstances. The ruling could be overturned by a higher court, but the highest court has the final word on it.

            Thus, when laws said "firing a gun within a city limit is illegal," it does not always mean it is illegal i

        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          It was not an invasion of his backyard. It was an invasion of his privacy. Yes, there is a HUGE difference.

          For all what is possible, he might never have invaded the backyard.

          This is like some guy climbing a tree across the street to look at a girl undress (then gets hit by a car and some people ends up back in the future, or whatever)

          I am aware that privacy as it is seen in Europe is different from how it is seen in the USofA.
          The rough idea is
          In Europe: Everything is private, unless it is public
          In the USofA

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Problem is now it's open season on drones. "He's coming right for us.... I mean under the tree line!"

          • Problem is now it's open season on drones. "He's coming right for us.... I mean under the tree line!"

            I don't see the problem, frankly. It should be open season on any drone sent into your yard. Don't have birdshot? Use a bat, hose, whatever.

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        His privacy was no more threatened than it is by aviation; anyone who files a flight plan can legally overfly him, and nothing prevents them from taking pictures as they go. And his property was not threatened; he shot down the drone, it was not revealed to be a firebomb.

        Umm, no. There are restrictions regarding altitude "above ground level" (AGL) for aviation. https://www.faa.gov/about/offi... [faa.gov]

        There are also property rights for airspace above your property. Just for you.. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/... [dummies.com]

    • by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @05:58AM (#50808163)

      No, +1 for property rights. Something for which drone operators have no respect. This isn't hard, fly where you are allowed, don't fly where you aren't.

  • by Max_W ( 812974 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @05:55AM (#50808147)
    I pilot fixed-wing and multi-rotor RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system). I never encountered shooting so far, thanks god, but several times my RPASs were attacked by large birds.

    This was where I understood the importance of a sport flying, and especially the knowledge of the Basic fighter maneuvers (BFM) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Knowing and practicing the basic defensive piloting is very useful in order not to hurt a bird and not to damage an expensive RPAS. It is practically impossible for a bird to catch an experienced pilot in the air, I would guess it is about the same for a gunner on the ground with a usual shotgun.
    • I would guess it is about the same for a gunner on the ground with a usual shotgun.

      You would guess wrong, then.

      Hint: birdshot is MUCH faster than any bird.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Hint, even a seasoned expert duck hunter cant shoot down a drone flying erratic.

        do you even know how shotguns work? you have to lead the target.


  • Oh so he just used a tool (shotgun) to disable (obliterate) another tool. Sounds pretty reasonable...in America.

    A tool, while could be also a weapon is not in its sole purpose a weapon. If he missed or caused other harm but I digress...a wise person (judge) found that it was reasonable.

    What I'm very curious about is the precedent. So a drone above the property is fair game for a shotgun, how far above? how close? what if you only thought it was a drone but actually it was some other RC toy? -what if you
    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Actually I am European and it seems pretty reasonable to me. No free passes to weirdos using drones to spy on semi-naked teen girls.
    • I believe this described the tacit limit of your property rights as "within shotgun range."

  • Are we all forgetting the video of the shot down drone? https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    It's clearly well above the tree line. Why was this not used in court?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

      Oh, it WAS used in court. FTFA:

      During Monday's hearing, Boggs testified that flight data showed the drone was flying higher than Meredith stated. But Judge Rebecca Ward says that since at least two witnesses could see the drone below the tree line, it was an invasion of privacy.

      The judge decided to use witness testimony over factual hard evidence that the drone was over 250 feet in the air, well above the tree line. GJ idiot judge, this should be appealed.

      • Factually misrepresented, you mean. Showing the blip of footage from the drone's *return* trip is deceitful. It is done to misrepresent that it was the first and only trip made by the drone.

        Let me help you out here:

        Drone flies in low and hovers getting some nice pictures of the sun bathing teenage girl. Drone departs, but the irritated father goes into the house to get his shotgun in case the drone returns. When it does, he shoots it without waiting for it to get low and slow. Drone boy posts the footage ex

"We want to create puppets that pull their own strings." -- Ann Marion "Would this make them Marionettes?" -- Jeff Daiell

Working...