Hillview man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy

WDRB – by Ryan Cummings

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A Hillview man has been arrested after he shot down a drone flying over his property — but he’s not making any apologies for it.

It happened Sunday night at a home on Earlywood Way, just south of the intersection between Smith Lane and Mud Lane in Bullitt County, according to an arrest report.

Hillview Police say they were called to the home of 47-year-old William H. Merideth after someone complained about a firearm.  

When they arrived, police say Merideth told them he had shot down a drone that was flying over his house. The drone was hit in mid-air and crashed in a field near Merideth’s home.

Police say the owner of the drone claimed he was flying it to get pictures of a friend’s house — and that the cost of the drone was over $1,800.

Merideth was arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. He was booked into the Bullitt County Detention Center, and released on Monday.

WDRB News spoke with Merideth Tuesday afternoon, and he gave his side of the story.

“Sunday afternoon, the kids – my girls – were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard,” Merideth said. “And they come in and said, ‘Dad, there’s a drone out here, flying over everybody’s yard.'”

Merideth’s neighbors saw it too.

“It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off,” said neighbor Kim VanMeter.

VanMeter has a 16-year-old daughter who lays out at their pool. She says a drone hovering with a camera is creepy and weird.

“I just think you should have privacy in your own backyard,” she said.

Merideth agrees and said he had to go see for himself.

“Well, I came out and it was down by the neighbor’s house, about 10 feet off the ground, looking under their canopy that they’ve got under their back yard,” Merideth said. “I went and got my shotgun and I said, ‘I’m not going to do anything unless it’s directly over my property.’”

That moment soon arrived, he said.

“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.”

“I didn’t shoot across the road, I didn’t shoot across my neighbor’s fences, I shot directly into the air,” he added.

It wasn’t long before the drone’s owners appeared.

“Four guys came over to confront me about it, and I happened to be armed, so that changed their minds,” Merideth said.

“They asked me, ‘Are you the S-O-B that shot my drone?’ and I said, ‘Yes I am,'” he said. “I had my 40mm Glock on me and they started toward me and I told them, ‘If you cross my sidewalk, there’s gonna be another shooting.'”

A short time later, Merideth said the police arrived.

“There were some words exchanged there about my weapon, and I was open carry – it was completely legal,” he said. “Long story short, after that, they took me to jail for wanton endangerment first degree and criminal mischief…because I fired the shotgun into the air.”

Merideth said he was disappointed with the police response.

“They didn’t confiscate the drone. They gave the drone back to the individuals,” he said. “They didn’t take the SIM card out of it…but we’ve got…five houses here that everyone saw it – they saw what happened, including the neighbors that were sitting in their patio when he flew down low enough to see under the patio.”

Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can’t fire your gun in the city.

“Well, we do have a city ordinance against discharging firearms in the city, but the officer made an arrest for a Kentucky Revised Statute violation,” he said.

According to the Academy of Model Aeronautics safety code, unmanned aircraft like drones may not be flown in a careless or reckless manner and has to be launched at least 100 feet downwind of spectators.

The FAA says drones cannot fly over buildings — and that shooting them poses a significant safety hazard.

“An unmanned aircraft hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air,” said FAA spokesman Les Dorr.

Merideth said he’s offering no apologies for what he did.

“He didn’t just fly over,” he said. “If he had been moving and just kept moving, that would have been one thing — but when he come directly over our heads, and just hovered there, I felt like I had the right.”

“You know, when you’re in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy,” he said. “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.”

For now, Merideth says he’s planning on pursuing legal action against the owners of the drone.

“We’re not going to let it go,” he said. “I believe there are rules that need to be put into place and the situation needs to be addressed because everyone I’ve spoke to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing.”

“Because our rights are being trampled daily,” he said. “Not on a local level only – but on a state and federal level. We need to have some laws in place to handle these kind of things.”

Copyright 2015 WDRB News.

http://www.wdrb.com/story/29650818/hillview-man-arrested-for-shooting-down-drone-cites-right-to-privacy

11 thoughts on “Hillview man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy

  1. I like this guy already! My first thought would have been the garden hose but shotgun works(given the backdrop). If his neighbor was sticking his nose where it don’t belong, losing 1800 zollars serves him right, and I hope he don’t get it back!

  2. The questions are: Who are these men who claim to be the drone owners, who is their employer, and what are their affiliations?

    It’s VERY creepy, as though the drone thugs were casing homes and/or looking for “desirable” children to snatch.

  3. “Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can’t fire your gun in the city.”

    No wonder Obozo thinks he can make law by EO at will; he just took his cue from LEOs making up laws ad lib.

  4. I would like one of these things to hover over my property. .12 GA to the rescue. I don’t think I would stop with just one shot though, I would try to send it to Mars.

  5. So a drone invades this guy’s property and he protects his property by shooting it down and instead of the drone owner getting fined for trespassing and spying, he’s relieved of any guilt and the one who protected himself is put in jail because he (GASP!) used a gun to shoot it down.

    Unfrigginbelievable….

    They say it was reckless endangerment, yet he shot in the air where no one could possibly be.

    Again, the police logic is unfrigginbelievable……

    “Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can’t fire your gun in the city.“”

    So what are you saying? If he went out into the country and fired his gun, then that would be OK? Does the 2nd Article say, “The Right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, as long as it is not in the city”? I don’t remember seeing that last part in the Article.

    “An unmanned aircraft hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air,” said FAA spokesman Les Dorr.”

    Yea and I’m sure that if the operator lost control of the thing, it would not “collide with other objects in the air” and it would land politely in your neighbors yard like a good little drone and not cause “damage to persons or property on the ground”

    Are these cops really that stupid or are they just playing?

  6. “I had my 40mm Glock on me and they started toward me and I told them, ‘If you cross my sidewalk, there’s gonna be another shooting.’”

    OUTSTANDING!!!

    That’s EXACTLY how you deal with MORONS!!!!!

  7. “We need to have some laws in place to handle these kind of things.”

    Disagree.

    We need more people with guns doing what you just did.

    And more.

  8. This guy deserves a huge apology, from the cops, the a$$hole droner neighbor and from the sixteen year old hottie who started the whole peeping mess.
    Everybody must respond in kind when faced with similar circumstances and then the frequency of happenings will slowly diminish.

  9. “Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can’t fire your gun in the city*”

    *You can’t, unless you are a buzz-cut-roided-IQ-limited-revenue-generating-corporate-code-enforcing-super-citizen-in-tactical-clothing-replete-with-masonic-symbolism

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