A man in Hillview, Kentucky was arrested last week after he used a 12 gauge shotgun to bring down a drone flying over his house. William Merideth, 47, told reporters that he first noticed the drone on Sunday night when his daughters pointed it out hovering over his neighbor’s house. When it begin to fly over his own property, Merideth said it made him uncomfortable.
“Is he looking at the girls, the young girls? Or is he looking for something to steal? It’s an invasion of privacy,” Merideth told WDRB.
The drone, reportedly valued at $1,800, carried a small camera and was recording footage as it flew over the area. Some of Merideth’s neighbors also found the presence of the drone “creepy” and intrusive, but Merideth caused a stir when he took out a shotgun and shot straight up into the air with birdshot, hitting the craft and sending it crashing into the ground.
“I wanted to see if it was going to stay there and it did and I reacted,” he told WAVE 3. “It’s an invasion of privacy. We were in our own yard, had he been flying around and never stopped over my house, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Shortly afterward, Merideth said four men showed up to his home and asked him if he was the one that shot down the drone. Merideth confronted the men while openly carrying a handgun and confirmed that he was.
“‘Was I the guy that did it?’ I said ‘Absolutely’ and the four of them started this way and I let them know that I would defend my property,” Merideth said.
He was later arrested by Hillview police and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. Merideth contends that he did not endanger anyone because of the birdshot he used. He has since hired an attorney and stated that he will be fighting the charges in court, as well as pursuing a legal case against the owner of the drone, David Boggs.
Boggs said the drone was flying over Merideth’s property for just seconds before it was shot down. The drone operator also claimed that he was not there to record video of the area’s houses or residents, but just to have fun. Boggs further claimed that the drone never went lower than 200 feet. Merideth refutes this, arguing that the birdshot he used would not have been able to bring down the drone if it had been that high up.
Boggs said that someone removed the SD card containing the footage of the incident, further complicating matters. The remainder of the drone has been returned to its owner.
Under the current rules set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a drone is considered a civil aircraft—albeit one with no passengers—and it is legal to fly one over a private residence. The drone operator is required to keep it under 400 feet, a certain distance away from people or animals, and within sight at all times. Shooting a legally operated drone can be considered a federal crime.
You can watch an interview with Merideth below:
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