A Hillview, Kentucky resident has been arrested for shooting down a drone that was hovering over his home – and he’s not going to apologize for it. The case raises fresh legal and ethical issues over behavior relating to the use of drones and citizens' expectations of privacy in the drone era.
William Meredith shot down the drone at his home, on Sunday night, close to the Smith Lane intersection in Earlywood Way in Bullitt County.
Police from the local Hillview station were first alerted by a call from a resident complaining of a firearm. When the local police arrived, Meredith told them that he had just shot down a drone hovering above his property.
Police records indicate that the owner of the flying drone said he launched the drone to get better pictures of his neighbor’s house. On inquiry, he further claimed the drone cost over $1,800.
The police arrested Meredith and charged him with first degree wanton endangerment and first degree criminal mischief. He was later booked into Bullitt County Detention Center.
In an interview with WDRB News, Meredith said he had no apologies for his actions.
He said he was first alerted of the hovering drone by his children who were out playing with the neighbors. When he went out to see it, he found the drone flying over his neighbor’s property before stopping, just hovering there and moving on to the next house. He strongly felt that this was a blatant breach on his and his neighbors’ right to privacy.
"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," he said. "It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky."
It was a short while later before the police knocked on his door, whisking Meredith off to detention.
Detective Charles McWhirter of the Hillview Police said it was illegal to fire a gun in the city. “We do have a city ordinance against discharging firearms in the city, but the officer made an arrest for a Kentucky Revised Statute violation," said McWhirter.
Meredith remains unapologetic and plans to take the matter to court. "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.”
He further added, "We’re not going to let it go. I believe there are rules that need to be put into place and the situation needs to be addressed.”
Drones and their implications on Americans’ right to privacy have been a widely debated topic in the digital age. Worries that individuals’ right to privacy are being breached every day by the hovering aircraft have been shared with reluctant authorities to no avail. Laws that put these acts of trespassing in their place seem increasingly necessary as legal definitions are stretched far beyond their original intent.