Kentucky man arrested after shooting down $1,800 drone with shotgun

3D Robotics Solo drone
Taking place in a town called Hillview just south of Louisville, Kentucky, 47-year-old William H. Merideth used his shotgun to fire on a drone that was hovering over his property during late Sunday afternoon. According to an account of the incident, the shotgun blast hit the drone and the hardware crashed in a field in the vicinity of Merideth’s home. When police arrived to investigate the weapon fire, Merideth admitted that he shot down the drone because it was flying over his home.

In an interview with local FOX affiliate WDRB, Merideth said “Well, I came out and it was down by the neighbor’s house, about 10 feet off the ground, looking under their canopy that they’ve got under their back yard. I went and got my shotgun and I said, ‘I’m not going to do anything unless it’s directly over my property.’ Within a minute or so, here it came. It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky…I didn’t shoot across the road, I didn’t shoot across my neighbor’s fences, I shot directly into the air.”

Owners of the drone claim they were simply shooting photos of a friend’s home, but neighbors claimed the drone was hovering over multiple homes, occasionally as low enough to see under patios. The owners attempted to confront Merideth about shooting down the drone, but hesitated when Merideth warned them to stay back, otherwise another shooting would occur. Owners of the drone claim that the hardware was valued at $1,800. That would position the drone somewhat equal to models like the DJI Phantom 3 Professional in terms of overall value.

Police arrested Merideth at his home and charged him with first degree criminal mischief as well as first degree wanton endangerment. Merideth was booked into Bullitt County Detention Center on Sunday and released the following day. After his arrest, he expressed displeasure in how the authorities handled the situation. He wanted police officers to confiscate the memory card within the drone and review the footage. However, the police gave the drone back to the owners and allowed them to leave with no further inquiry.

Speaking about privacy, Merideth said “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…I believe there are rules that need to be put into place and the situation needs to be addressed because everyone I’ve spoke to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing.”

Merideth told WDRB that he plans on pursuing legal action against the owners of the drone. Of course, it’s likely that the owners will pursue similar legal action to recoup the cost of the broken hardware.

Interstingly, this isn’t the first time that someone has shot a drone out of the air with a shotgun. During October 2014, a New Jersey man shot down a drone that was attempting to take photos of an unfinished house in the area.

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