LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – William Merideth, of Bullitt County, was arrested last Sunday after shooting down a drone he claimed was violating his family’s privacy, WDRB news’ Ryan Cummings reported.
Merideth maintains that the drone had appeared over the neighborhood before, and that its operators were deliberately trying to pry into residents’ private affairs. In the last flight that lead to the shooting, Merideth says that the drone had descended to as low as 10 feet above the ground and even managed to fly under the canopy of a nearby neighbor’s patio. According to Merideth, the neighbors asked him if he was going to do anything about the drone flights, and Merideth replied that he would take action against the drone, but only if it flew over his property.
Merideth and members of his family stated that Merideth’s sixteen year old daughter habitually sunbathes in their backyard, and that the drone had been getting suspiciously close as of late. The daughter became uncomfortable with the drone hovering over the backyard while she was sunbathing, saying it was “creepy,” and waved at the drone, which instantly departed.
However, the drone returned soon after and Merideth decided that he was now justified in taking direct action against what he regarded as a clear violation of his family’s privacy.
Merideth says he shot at the drone with a shotgun, using #8 birdshot. He was adamant in maintaining that he did not shoot across any streets or into or over the neighboring yards, but only directly skyward at the drone.
The drone crashed in a field a short while after Merideth’s shot.
The drone’s owners then confronted Merideth, asking him if he was the one who had shot the drone down. When Merideth told them that he had indeed done the shooting, an altercation ensued, ending with Merideth telling the drone owners to stay off his property, or he would use defensive force. Police were called, and Merideth was arrested.
Merideth is now accused of two crimes: criminal mischief, and wanton endangerment. He was released from jail on Monday, but will be due back in court in September.
The drone owners have since stated that they can prove that they were no less than 272 feet above Merideth’s property at the time of the shooting, and that they never flew the drone down to the 10 foot altitude, or spied on people, as Merideth maintains. They claim that proof lies in the “flight record” program for the drone that is installed on an iPad.
Merideth is frustrated and disappointed with the police response to the situation largely because of that flight record data: he feels that the police should have confiscated both the drone, and its SD or SIM card (data storage/memory) as evidence. Instead, the police gave the owners their damaged drone, with memory card, back to them immediately.
Regardless, Merideth states that there are numerous witnesses to the drone’s flight that will corroborate his version of events, and that he is going to maintain his case in court.