A Kentucky man who shot down a drone flying near his property has been cleared of all charges by a local judge. William Merideth was originally cited for criminal mischief and wanton endangerment after shooting the drone out of the air in July this year, but Judge Rebecca Ward ruled that he was right to do so after reviewing testimony from neighbors that the aircraft was flying near Merideth's house.
"I think it's credible testimony that his drone was hovering [...] for two or three times over these people's property, that it was an invasion of their privacy and that they had the right to shoot this drone," Ward told the court according to a report from Sky News. "I'm going to dismiss his charge."
"I'm just shocked, beyond shocked."
The drone's pilot, David Boggs, described the hearing as "unbelievable," claiming that Ward did not review video evidence he submitted showing that the drone was over 200 feet in the air when it was shot down. "She believed what the neighbor said and that the drone was below the tree line," Boggs told Ars Technica. "The judge didn’t look at the video, paid no consideration to the video. I’m just shocked, beyond shocked."
Meredith gained national attention after shooting down the DJI Phantom 3 drone, and was dubbed the "drone slayer" by some. The case highlights the murky legal territory that surrounds the use of drones near private property. Although the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is clear about issues such as licensing drones for businesses, incidents like the one involving Merideth and Boggs are judged on a case-by-case basis.
Boggs told Ars that he now plans to file a civil suit against Merideth. "My original thing was for him to just replace the drone, but it’s much bigger than that now — he lies and then doubles down on his lies," he said. "I will probably meet with my attorney this week and we will start that process."
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