Man charged after shooting down drone

Man charged after shooting down drone

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A man is facing charges after he used a shotgun to shoot down a drone.

Hillview police arrested William H. Merideth, 47, at his home on July 26.

Hillview Police say this was a first for them. While officers say they can understand Merideth's concern for privacy, they stand behind the charges.

Along Earlywood Way in Bullitt County, neighbors couldn't ignore a certain buzz Sunday evening.

"What is that?" neighbor Cindy Diebold wondered. "Then you see this thing fly by."

Diebold said for the first time in person, she saw a drone and what looked like a camera, on board.

"What in the world are they looking for?," she said.  

She wasn't the only one on the block concerned about the tiny unmanned aircraft. So was Merideth, especially when he says it stopped to hover over his fenced in backyard where his two daughters were sitting outside.

"I wanted to see if it was going to stay there and it did and I reacted," Merideth said.

Merideth says he went and got his 12 gauge shotgun and took matters into his own hands.

"They had it low enough that he hit it," Diebold said.

"It's an invasion of privacy," Merideth said. "We were in our own yard, had he been flying around and never stopped over my house, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

So are there rules for drones? The FAA strongly encourages those flying for hobby or recreation to follow certain safety guidelines. Some include fly below 400 feet, keep the aircraft within your sight at all times, and do not fly near people.

A spokesperson tells WAVE 3 News, it would be up to law enforcement agencies to enforce.

After Merideth shot the drone down, he says he was approached by four men. "They were pretty irate," Merideth said. "Some words were exchanged, 'Was I the guy that did it?' I said 'Absolutely' and the four of them started this way and I let them know that I would defend my property."

The police were called and that's when Merideth was arrested for wanton endangerment and criminal mischief. It is against the law to discharge a firearm, within city limits, according to a Hillview ordinance, unless you are a law enforcement officer or the action is in self defense.   

"We live in a society now where we don't know what these people are doing," Meredith said. "We don't know if they are pedophiles looking for kids, we don't know if they are thieves, we don't know if it is Isis." 

Merideth stands behind his actions and he's not alone.

"I think it is crazy, for the charges," Diebold said. "I understand shooting a gun in a residential area, but I felt like my privacy was invaded and I felt like he was protecting all of our rights at that, so I don't think he should be charged at all."

Merideth says he has hired an attorney and plans to fight the charges. He is due back in court in September.

The owner of the drone told police he was using the machine, valued at more than $1,800, to take pictures of a friend's home.

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