Dad shoots down drone hovering over sunbathing daughter; felony arrest sparks privacy debate

A Kentucky father, protecting his daughter’s honor, fought a drone — and the drone lost.

But in what could be considered a rewrite of the old Bobby Fuller Four song “I Fought the Law,” he also fought the law, and the law won — for now.

The man is fighting back.

William H. Merideth, 47, was arrested last Sunday night after shooting down a drone, valued at $1,800, that he caught hovering over his property, where his daughter was sunbathing, according to local Fox affiliate WDRB.

He was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and first-degree wanton endangerment, both felonies.

“My daughter comes in and says, ‘Dad, there’s a drone out here flying,’ ” Merideth told the station Tuesday.

“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 in 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.’”

merideth

It didn’t take long.

“Within a minute or so, here it came. 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.”

The drone crashed in a field near his yard after he shot it.

One of the drone’s owners said they were only trying to take some photos of a friend’s house.

Merideth said it was an invasion of privacy, especially with his having two young daughters.

“Is he looking at the girls?” he said. “Or is he looking for something to steal?”

The drone’s owners appeared a short time later.

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

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

It wasn’t long before the Hillview police showed up.

“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.”

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Merideth says he got a raw deal.

“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.”

If the police won’t take action against the drone’s owners, Merideth said he will.

“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.”

Watch the news footage via WDRB.

WDRB 41 Louisville News

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