Kentucky laws vague regarding drone use and personal privacy

A Bullitt County District Court Judge has dismissed all charges against a man who shot down a drone he said was flying over his property. 

The court hearing for William Merideth began Monday afternoon. He shot down a drone in Hillview earlier this year.

Merideth said the operator was violating his privacy and spying on his family, but Hillview police arrested Merideth for firing his gun within city limits and charged him with wanton endangerment. 

Monday's hearing in Bullitt County lasted just over two hours and based on the judge's ruling, William Merideth says he feels vindicated.

"Was it handled the right way, I don't think so but justice came out in the end," said Merideth.

It's what he’s been saying all along, since shooting down David Boggs’ drone in July. Meredith says it was hovering over his Hillview property and he thought it was spying on his family.

"I was in my right to protect my family and my property," said Merideth.

 “Do you also agree that you chose to allow that drone to hover over some of those people's property there on Earlywood Way?" said Merideth’s Attorney.

“No that's not true," replied Boggs.

During Monday's hearing, Boggs testified that flight data showed the drone was flying higher than Meredith stated. But Judge Rebecca Ward says that since at least two witnesses could see the drone below the tree line, it was an invasion of privacy.

"He had a right to shoot at this drone, and I'm gonna dismiss this charge," said Ward.

Judge Ward dismissed both charges against Merideth including criminal mischief and wanton endangerment.

"I wasn't surprised at all, that charge should've never came about," Merideth said about the wanton endangerment charge.

Last week, state representative Diane St. Onge pre-filed her drone harassment bill for the 2016 session.

It says a person is guilty of harassment when they hover over or land on someone's property, or use a drone for no legitimate purpose, to commit acts that alarm or seriously annoy someone.

“The next time something like this happens, they're gonna refer to it,” Merideth said about future cases involving drones. “Now I don't encourage people to just go out and start blasting stuff for no reason - but three times in one day, three times over the course of a year, six times total, over one property? That's not right, that's harassment."

Boggs declined an on camera interview with WDRB Monday, but says he will push the Commonwealth's Attorney's office to take the case to the grand jury.

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