A resident of Hillview, Kentucky shot a drone hovering over his home and was consequently arrested on two counts.
William H. Merideth was going about his daily activities when his daughter, sunbathing in the home’s yard came to announce him that a drone is flying over their home. Enraged and invoking his right as an American citizen to privacy in the perimeter of his Hillview home, William H. Merideth took a gun and fired three shots at the 1,800 dollars drone, bringing it down.
According to the owner of the drone, the unmanned air vehicle was supposed to take footage of a friend’s home and not trespass over anyone’s privacy.
William H. Merideth was arrested on first degree criminal mischief, as well as first degree wanton endangerement.
Citing Mr. Merideth:
“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”.
Flying drones above residential headquarters stems heated debates over privacy issues. However, these have so far failed to materialize in concrete answers for homeowners who feel threatened by the unmanned air vehicles, or drone owners who put their equipment in danger with almost every flight, albeit it being recreational.
The safety code Academy of Model Aeronautics reads that drones or other unmanned aircrafts must be launched 100 feet downwind of any possible spectators. Also, reckless manner of flying should be punishable.
Yet, drone owners face less punishment for flying drones in residential areas than home owners who are expressing their privacy concerns. In California, one court also ruled in favor of one drone-owner in a similar incident that saw his drone shot down by a homeowner.
Mr. Meredith’s case is adding fuel to the fire. He was taken into custody due to the fact that he destroyed property and fired a gun.
The FAA regulations state that a drone is not allowed to be flown above 400 feet, owners must keep the drone in sight, the vehicles should never be flown near airports or other aircrafts due to security concerns, as well as prohibiting that profits are made from flying a drone.
As for federal law, this is what is says regarding the damage inflicted to unmanned air vehicles:
“Whoever willfully … sets fire to, damages, destroys, disables, or wrecks any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated, or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years or both.”
The debate is far from over and is rather fuzzy at this moment. Both the FAA and other institutions are scrambling to put together a comprehensive framework for the use of unmanned air vehicles.
Ideally, the framework would address the right to privacy of U.S. citizens and would limit the use of drones in residential areas.
Photo Credits: Yahoo