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Dad who shot 'snooping vid drone' out of the sky is cleared of charges

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Bullit County

I love it Nominative Determinism!

Nice to see a judge with a little common sense, if some of the dipshits who fly their drones without concern for othershear of this , perhaps they will think a little more.

Or perhaps not.

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Re: Bullit County

Beat me to it... I too am glad to hear there is some sanity still prevailing in the courts... I hope this sets an early precedent against this kind of snooping. If the operator's last frame is two circles with fire streaming at him, he should just shut his mouth and cut his losses. Especially if this earlier footage contained the marksman's daughters.

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Re: Bullit County

>Especially if this earlier footage contained the marksman's daughters.

For sure. Curiously, the article didn't note if any evidence of deliberate spying was presented in court, only that "Merideth *thought* the quadcopter was spying on his daughters in their yard". (my emphasis)

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Re: Bullit County

@Dave 126: That is immaterial. He had no way of knowing if the drone operator was filming his daughters or not, and it didn't matter because the operator was invading his privacy.

If Mr. Merideth had a way of knowing that the drone was clearly facing away and if the flight pattern clearly showed it was flying through the area rather than loitering, then he could be in trouble. I presume the court established that. Even if not, if Mr. Boggs attempts to appeal or sue, the onus is on him.

In a similar situation, if you're cornered by a thug brandishing a knife, but you're armed, you have no duty to retreat, and you are not expected to inspect the knife to make sure that it's actually dangerous. If you shoot him and the knife turns out to be a plastic toy (some toys these are), it doesn't play much of a role, you had no way of knowing and you were protecting yourself against what seemed to have been a very real danger.

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Re: Bullit County

"In a similar situation, if you're cornered by a thug brandishing a knife"

But the situation was not similar. Perhaps a person wearing a baseball cap and carrying a baseball bat walking towards you is more similar... no cornering, no brandishing, the potential weapon has legitimate uses.

Secondly, how much violence can be legitimately used in defence of privacy? He discharged a potentially lethal weapon (not at a person, admittedly) in a residential area.

I'd say the garden hose option would be much preferable.

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Re: Bullit County

The snooping (real or potential) could be someone monitoring a house in preparation of committing a serious crime such as the rape of the daughters. Destroying the drone probably did not prevent a rape because it probably was not considered.

I believe the drone was shot down using a shotgun which is less likely to endanger people down range. One the range of shotgun is not the far, much shorter than most rifles.

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Re: Bullit County

"But the situation was not similar"

The drone was over his property = trespass. If someone was physically there, the owner would be fully entitled to ask the trespasser to leave, and forcefully eject him if not complied with. In this case it isn't clear whether he could identify / communicate with the drone pilot, I'm guessing not.

The guy was fully entitled to forcibly eject the drone from his property. Now, maybe it's possible that the guy could have used some non-fatal (to the drone) way of bringing it down, but probably not. So shooting it down should be OK.

The only reason I would censure the shooter would be if for example the trajectory of the shot got bits of shot on a public area where they could hurt someone (which I guess is the 'endangerment' part of the charge brought against him), but that is related to correct firearm usage and not strictly related to shooting the drone down.

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Re: Bullit County

All in all congratulations to the judge. For once USA law is not an ass.

A drone is a piece of equipment, not a person. The only issue at stake in its destruction is property rights. It's far less of a moral issue than shooting at a person, even at a person clearly threatening violence. The maximum penalty should be the replacement cost of the drone paid to its owner, plus administrative costs to the law. (And in my book the drone owner ought to be on the hook for those administrative costs if his complaint is not upheld).

It's right that the law considers whether discharging a shotgun (upwards) in a built-up area presented any significant threat to the population at large. I'm no expert but I think not. Shotgun pellets won't be dangerous when they fall back to earth (unlike much heavier bullets, especially ones discharged only slightly upwards from the horizontal). So, no public safety issue.

So what needs to be decided is the relative rights of a landowner over whose territory a drone is hovering, and rights of the owner of that drone. I think they've got this right. A drone hovering at low altitude over my land is invading my privacy, and there's no practical way to remove it that's nondestructive. So blasting it ought to be allowed. (Incidentally what's the upwards range of a shotgun? )

At a later date maybe there will need to be a statutory definition of hovering versus flying across, and an altitude below which a non-hovering drone is not allowed to cross private property without consent. But even after that's in place and someone blasts a "legal" drone, I'll go back to my original point. It's a piece of equipment. Maximum penalty = reasonable replacement cost. Damage to its owner's ego - tough!

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Re: Bullit County

@Allan George Dyer

Perhaps a person wearing a baseball cap and carrying a baseball bat walking towards you is more similar... no cornering, no brandishing, the potential weapon has legitimate uses.

Sure, but if you're in my yard, without invitation, while my children are there, then I'm not going to assume you're looking for the batting cage. I'm going to stand my ground and defend my family and my home. You may well win, but you'll not be unharmed.

Secondly, how much violence can be legitimately used in defence of privacy?

Violence towards a drone? Total destruction seems a sensible limit. Against the operator? Only as much as is required to restrain you until the authorities arrive.

Sorry, but my home is not your play ground.

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Re: Bullit County

Good ol' boy!

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Re: Bullit County

I'd say the garden hose option would be much preferable.

A garden hose isn't likely a viable option. Even if he has 80 psi head pressure he's going to lose quite a bit once it reaches the far end of a 1/2" maybe 3/8" copper line with assorted tees, elbows, shutoffs and freeze protection valves. Add to that the potential age of the construction with scale built up inside the pipes and you're not going to get much range when it reaches the end of a 50 foot garden hose. It is a garden hose attached to a bib after all; it's not a water cannon connected to a fire hydrant.

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Re: Bullit County

Yah, right, the drone was just "passing through", meanwhile dad has time to run to the gun cabinet, load his Mossberg run back out to the yard, aim and blast that sucker with birdshot which has an effective maximum range of 60 yards. That operator peckerhead succombed to the temptation of voyeurism.

Beware you nude sunbathers, a decent steady cam can zoom in on you from a quarter mile. Some bright lad is going to make a gizmo and app that will Tempest read the cam's signature, attach it to the control signal and give you the coordinates to the operator, whereby you and your mates can jump in the 4X4, arrive with the proper tools of physical mayhem and have the operator and his sex toy waltzing Matilda.

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Re: Bullit County

In the USA, particularly in states with laws regarding the sanctity of private property, there is a presumption of the right to oppose trespass.

If the drone was hovering in the low level airspace over the property then the owner was within his rights to take the action he did, particularly if his children were playing in the yard.

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Re: Bullit County

You are correct, shotguns are dead on in close range, but lose their punch when pointed skyward and the shots have to go up and down and drift apart. It might sound like sleet hitting your roof if you heard anything. I've never heard of an injury from falling shot...

In the end if you are being surveilled, you would want to take action no?

Liberties and freedoms are slipping away....

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Re: Bullit County

"The drone was over his property = trespass."

By that logic you'd be entitled to shoot down any 747 that flies over your house, which is clearly absurd.

What height are you going to draw the line?

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Facepalm

Re: Bullit County

@bobstay

Or what depth... 250m below the surface of the earth oil is found, is it yours?

Back to your question, I doubt you have the firepower to take down a 747. However, if it were close enough to hit with a shotgun, he's flying mighty low and I doubt the voyeurs on the plane are really thinking about copping a quick flick of nude sunbathers.

Also, I have to doubt the 747 is just hovering about here and there over your garden...

"What height are you going to draw the line?"

I would have to believe that line would be just above the range of your firepower... legal laws or no. Laws of physics still apply.

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Re: Bullit County

For those who think random shotgun pellets falling from the sky into your eye aren't dangerous, consider two things:

There are a lot of pellets scattered semi-randomly

Pellets are round pieces of metal, so terminal descent velocity is not exactly feathery

Now google for shotgun pellet in eye injury images.

Now do the math: http://www.shootingillustrated.com/articles/2012/9/24/its-the-math-stupid/

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Re: Bullit County

A garden hose doesn't have the range or stopping power of a shotgun.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bullit County

> If the drone was hovering in the low level airspace over the property then the owner was within his rights to take the action he did

The counter argument is that the FAA considers a drone to be a form of unmanned civil aircraft and it's a federal crime to shoot at an aircraft - punishable by 20 years in the slammer.

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Re: Bullit County

Shotgun Ballistics (Based On Shell Type) I'm unsure what load he was using as it seems unspecified in any articles I can find. Were I his neighbour I'd take some umbrage at tossing a slug around my place but I find this unlikely. I might also have some problems with buckshot. Were I his direct neighbour though, and he were tossing some birdshot in the air at a drone over his property, well, might hand him a beer, look at the wreck, and say "Well...damn shame to have to kill a decent chunk of tech because the operator was stupid.".

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Re: Bullit County

"By that logic you'd be entitled to shoot down any 747 that flies over your house, which is clearly absurd.

What height are you going to draw the line?"

In most places the law says 400 feet. And blood good on this man for fucking that drone up. Doubly good on the judge for letting him. Finally some sanity regarding this drone bull.

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Re: flight pattern clearly showed it was flying through

That's easily dismissed. Even if

- yuv got your best shoot'n iron in an easy release rack on the back of yur pick-up

- it's loaded with the appropriate shot for drone hunt'n

- yur outside at the time of the flight

it still takes more time to get it, cock it, aim it, and pull the trigger than the drone would need to fly through your airspace in a straight line.

QED.

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Re: Bullit County

You need to distinguish between firing up in the air at a drone and firing direcly at a person's chest at 10 yards (which is what the article you linked to is talking about).

Shotguns are specifically designed to take out airborne targets without causing damage on the ground to beaters, pickers up, gamekeepers etc who may well be "downrange" of the gun line but safe because the guns shoot upwards. I've been hit by falling shot many times, it just patters off your coat like rain.

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Re: Bullit County

Let's start by saying I enjoy a day at the shooting range when the opportunity presents itself and I can get a friend in the military or the police to "share some ammo" since I'll take up macrame before shooting at those prices. And I don't even know what macrame is.

I grew up in New York, was mugged 3 times growing up and generally found that being intelligent and speaking calmly and considering "Why would this guy need a 15 year old's $10 so bad he'd resort to this? Is he doing it because it's fun or because he's desperate? Can I come up with a better solution here than people ending up hurt or arrested?". In two of three of the cases, I ended up at McDonald's sharing a meal and stories with the guys. This is no exaggeration or joke. In one case, I felt (in my young naivety) that I might have helped the guy see a better solution to his problems.

As a guy, and a not so attractive one, I don't generally worry that someone will want to rape me. I guess it could be a concern with my wife or daughter, but there's things in life which make sense for anyone which is "If you're out on a party night in the city, travel in groups. Alcohol + People = Stupid people with bad judgement". Still, the best solution in general is not to go out of my way to place myself or my family's lives in positions where these things can be an issue. I'm not running or cowering, it's more like how I don't try to juggle knives. It seems like a lot of fun to me, but I know I'm bound to learn a hard lesson from it.

You state "In a similar situation, if you're cornered by a thug brandishing a knife, but you're armed, you have no duty to retreat,"

And all I could read there is "Are you really that impressively stupid?" ... I honestly really love the wording you used. It sounds as if this is a matter of duty and honor, as if we're all battlefield and glory. This isn't battlefield and glory and there is absolutely no such thing as glory on the battlefield unless you're an idiot anyway. That's crap that governments sell weak minded people to make sure they have someone on their team. Being a soldier is just a job... a VERY WELL PAID job... but roughly equal to driving a garbage truck or delivering news papers. If you're dumb enough to think that swinging guns around and shooting people for a living is heroic, you're a moron. It's a shit job and it screws you out of years of developmental opportunities that prepare you for when you can't play fun and games running around shooting people you don't even know for reasons you don't even understand.

There is no duty, honor or sanity in what you say. Even more so... you're saying "Even if I can get away, my bravado and pride makes it so that the better thing to do is to pull my gun and escalate the problem". You're just as much of a criminal as the other guy if you think this way.

1) I have no problem with people having guns. I live in Norway now which has one of the highest percentage of gun owners. Carrying a gun on the street is illegal and generally pointless. Even the cops don't do it.

2) I do have a problem with people who seem to think there's an issue of duty or honor to "pop a cap in that bitches ass" when they threaten me with a knife or make me generally sad. I have an issue with some moron who thinks "Hey! If I have a gun. Let me shoot first and ask questions later! Oh... I prepared myself for this situation... no I didn't learn things like how to manage conflicts. I went to the shooting range and made sure I clearly understood my rights regarding how to properly shoot them so I can go to court and win". Seriously... you clearly demonstrated that you have a pre-prepared defense it seem you've been practicing to justify killing another person while simply waiting for an opportunity to use it. I personally would love to know the name of the prosecuting attorney in the trial when it happens so I could share this posting with him. To me this is practically premeditated murder by a person who hasn't even identified his victim but wakes up each morning praying for a change to exercise his rights by law to kill someone.

Do you intentionally hang out in band neighborhoods? Do you have a conceal carry permit? Do you keep it close by? Are you so confident of you rights and defense that you don't even keep a lawyer on speed dial for defending you against charges over the murder but instead have 10 lawyers on speed dial in case someone tries to take your gun away from you? Do you wake up each day hoping someone from the government will come and try and take your gun away so you can exercise your second amendment right and shoot them because it's clear a tyranny has come into power and it's your personal responsibility to take up arms against them... no... not your right. It's you're duty!

People like you give me nightmares. Armed idiots who premeditate murder, sometimes for years or decades and simply hope the world is so bad that you'll get a chance to finally do it. You're actually the reason we need stricter guns laws and why the second amendment needs to be further amended to include some "within reason" clause.

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Anonymous Coward

Mr Boggs came across as something of a confrontational creep in the news stories.

Too bad the judge didn't rule that you can also dispatch jerks like that from your property with a load of buckshot in the rear for encouragement.

I believe that falls under the "He had it coming" statute.

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"He had it coming" statute.

Sir, I believe you have summed it nicely... Up vote

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I would hope that whatever route he chooses to take will result in the court version of a shotgun blast of rock salt to his butt. What a twit.. demanding payment for his stupidity.

But then again, stranger things have happened here in the States. Consider that much of the cost of a ladder is for liability insurance for the manufacturer because idiots have done dumb things and sued.... and one. Thus all the warning stickers on them also.

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Yup... tough luck. Next time, try not hovering within shotgun range over other people's property.

This guy should just forget about lawsuits and go do something fun and useful with his drones, for example, dropping flaming turds on insurance companies.

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how did the drone's owner justify having it hover over someone's property?

I would shoot down a drone spying on my family. Oh. no I wouldn't because we're generally not allowed access to firearms in the u.k.

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FIA

how did the drone's owner justify having it hover over someone's property?

He claims it never flew below 200ft.

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200ft

Zoom lens on camera?

Still, decent cartridges to down a drone at 200ft?

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Is that 200 feet

AMSL (which most aircraft fly to) or AGL? 200 feet with bird shot is, to say the least, improbable.

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Longbow

Crossbow

Sling

Weighted Net

Catapult

Not even near the edge of the box yet.

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"Oh. no I wouldn't because we're generally not allowed access to firearms in the u.k."

I feel a drone Kickstarter project coming on.

The FU Interceptor with patented tangulation tech. Launching a tangulation strike basically looks akin to spiderman ejuculating his webbing on the "wide" dispersal setting.

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40 yards is generally considered maximum effective range for bird shot from a twelve bore and that is usually at a fairly low angle, so definitely anything over 200 ft(67yds ish) is not going to suffer.

For high flying drones you will need to live in a State where firing a .30 cal from your back garden is legal.

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Anonymous Coward

""Oh. no I wouldn't because we're generally not allowed access to firearms in the u.k.""

Be glad - it's also why we dont have high levels of gun crime, lots of children shooting each other and daily mass murders...

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How about a simple garden hose with a jet attachment? I have to think that a nice narrow water jet at 100 mph would knock down a drone, though perhaps with less satisfying destruction than a load of birdshot.

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@trigonoceps

All the stuff you mentioned *does* have considerable energy and penetrative power when it lands, to the point of easily being able to injure innocent bystanders should you miss....

Which most people will, since most can't hit dead center at 20 meters, let alone 100+ with this type of weaponry.

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Green laser, 5Mw pointed below the drone (to where the camera normally is). Good bye camera, or at least it is if the camera is pointing at you. If drone voyeur complains to the poilce, he's just admitted to invasion of privacy.

And if you're wondering why green, it's visible in daylight so you can see where you're pointing it. Blue lasers might be better but are way to expensive at the moment.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, that is one very effective shotgun at 200 feet.

Almost calls Mr Bogg's credibility in to question.....

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Not at all. On a clay pigeon shoot a 50 yards (150 feet) is considered a long range shot because it is difficult to hit the clay at that distance, but a top pro will do it easily and consistently. If on target you will consistently brake a clay at much greater distances than that. Taking down a drone at 200 feet would be childs play as even a small drone will be twice the size of a clay pigeon and much slower moving (if not "stationary") so far easier to hit.

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Are they using birdshot when shooting trap? I thought it was a larger size of shot?

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@Your alien overlord - fear me

No, high-powered green lasers are a genuine issue for pilots and, certainly in Australia, if you were found to be aiming them upwards, it might not go down overly well.

I would suggest that some kind of counter-drone would be a fantastic idea. It would 'need' a camera to record the incident, as evidence if needed, a second camera to detect drones and help 'home in' on them and then a mounted laser that disrupts the camera.

Of course drones come in many configurations so that might be difficult but I'm sure someone clever could figure it out.

If not that then another option would be for a specially hardened drone that could disable other drones simply by hitting them. It wouldn't need to be overly forceful.

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Anonymous Coward

Where do I get this 5 Mega-watt green laser? Does it come with a generator or power cable?

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And a top pro runner can consistently run a four minute mile.

But I'll never come close to that time and I don't think I could ever make that shot - I believe it was one shot, and with bird shot?

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It is not hard to get a shotgun licence in the UK if you are a country dweller. Air guns are also legal and would probably send an appropriate message to the drone flyer.

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Finally, someone has an intelligent comment about the range of shot.

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Childcatcher

not allowed access to firearms

Be glad - it's also why we dont have high levels of gun crime, lots of children shooting each other and daily mass murders...

BS! Anti-gun laws here in the US are successful in depressing levels of gun ownership but not in lowering relative incidence of their use in crime (or violent crime, for that matter). For example, Washington, DC has both some of the toughest gun laws and highest rates of violent crime. Again, there does not seem to be a correlation between gun ownership levels and gun crime levels in the US. There also does not seem to be much correlation between relative levels of prosperity and violent crime. About the only simple correlation I could find among those typically cited by people "debating" this issue is between violent crime (with or without guns involved) and population density, but it is a weak relationship at best.*

If it is not a factor that fits someone's political agenda, it tends not to be considered in public forums. What actually seems to be going on is something more complex than a simple good/bad dichotomy. It probably has more to do with the cultures within the various jurisdictions. Rather than trying to address the issue as a matter of access because doing so demonstrably doesn't work (e.g. drugs, guns, anything having to do with a teenager), I would think that identifying and addressing the root causes of violent crime might be a little more to the point. So, if we were to borrow something from the UK, perhaps it ought to be having low-level offenders do community service in preference to incarceration.

Back to you, AC, the reason you don't have "high levels of gun crime, lots of children shooting each other and daily mass murders" is most likely not that you aren't allowed access to firearms. It is that you come from a different set of values, attitudes and circumstances.

* Sources: A quick search through Wikipedia and whatever government stats sites that Google searches returned. Look it up yourself - it might prove educational.

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WTF?

200ft? I'm not familiar with a shotgun that can hit a target at a vertical 200ft.

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@Robert Helpmann??

Sorry Robert, but you cannot deny that the USA is the only country in the world where so many people die from gunshot wounds every year. And that in a country that is not even at war.

The simple fact is that having less guns lying around would certainly solve the issue. Another simple fact is that that is never going to happen.

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