A Kentucky homeowner is facing two felony charges after he shot down a drone that he says was hovering above his property.
William H. Merideth, 47, told local media that he was worried the unmanned aircraft was photographing his daughters or scouting his property for things to steal.
“Sunday afternoon, the kids — my girls — were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard,” Merideth told Louiville-based WDRB. “And they come in and said, ‘Dad, there’s a drone out here, flying over everybody’s yard.’”
According to Merideth, there would have been no problem if the drone had simply been passing over his property. But when it hovered overhead for more than a few seconds, he decided to take action and shoot it down with his shotgun.
“It was just right there,” he told Ars Technica. “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.”
Merideth wasn’t alone in feeling that the drone was violating his privacy.
“I just think you should have privacy in your own backyard,” neighbor Kim VanMeter told local reporters.
VanMeter said the drone made her particularly uncomfortable considering that her teenage daughter often sunbathes in the privacy of her backyard.
After he shot the unmanned vehicle down with No. 8 birdshot, Merideth said he was soon visited by four men who appeared to be “looking for trouble.”
But the homeowner made clear that he wouldn’t hesitate to again protect his property.
“They asked me, ‘Are you the S-O-B that shot my drone?’ and I said, ‘Yes I am,’ ” Merideth told the news station. “I had my 40-millimeter Glock on me, and they started toward me and I told them, ‘If you cross my sidewalk, there’s gonna be another shooting.’ ”
The drone owner said that he intends to force the homeowner to pay for the $1,800 damaged drone.
Unfortunately for Merideth, the ordeal didn’t end there.
Local police arrested him and charged him with two felonies: criminal mischief and wanton endangerment.
Merideth — along with many liberty advocates who’ve encountered his story online — believes the charges are bogus.
“Now, if I’d have had a .22 rifle, I should have gone to jail for that. The diameter of those things are going to come down with enough force to hurt somebody. Number 8 birdshot is not. Number 8 is the size of a pinhead. The bottom line is that it’s a right to privacy issue and defending my property issue. It would have been no different had he been standing in my backyard. As Americans, we have a right to defend our rights and property,” he told Ars.
He plans to make his case in court.
“We have a lawyer and there’s a court date and then there’s going to be a hearing,” Merideth said. “It’s not going to stop with the two charges against me, which I’m confident that we’ll get reduced or get dismissed completely.”
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