The 'Drone Slayer' Has Case Dismissed By Federal Judge After Shooting Down Neighbor's Drone

The 'Drone Slayer' Has Case Dismissed By Federal Judge After Shooting Down Neighbor's Drone

Despite a 1946 United States Supreme Court Decision related to ownership of airspace above private property, the question of whether or not it’s considered trespassing if you fly over your neighbor’s property remains one that doesn’t yet have a clear answer. A federal judge recently sided with the man, who later deemed himself as the “Drone Slayer,” in a case involving a drone that was shot down while hovering over the man's sunbathing daughter. 

Man Shoots Drone Out Of The Sky

In 2015, David Boggs piloted his drone over his neighbor, William Merideth’s backyard, where Merideth’s daughter was sunbathing. Merideth states that his daughter came into their home and alerted him to a drone flying overhead. After fetching his trusty twelve-gauge shotgun, Merideth proceeded to shoot the drone out of the sky.

I went and got my shotgun and I said, ‘I’m not going to do anything unless it’s directly over my property,’ 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.

Apparently following shooting down the drone, Boggs approached Merideth.

 I had my 40mm Glock on me and they started toward me and I told them, ‘If you cross my sidewalk, there’s gonna be another shooting,’ 
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.

The Lawsuit Dismissed

The 2016 lawsuit that was brought against Merideth by Boggs for shooting down his drone has recently been dismissed by Senior US District Judge, Thomas B. Russell. The judgment ruled in favor of Merideth’s motion to dismiss, finding that federal court is not the proper venue for this claim.

Boggs claimed that Merideth should pay for the damages to his drone, which he estimated a total value of $1,500. Who do you side with? Should the nosey drone pilot consider himself lucky for not being injured himself, or should he be compensated for damages to his drone?


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Dusty Wooddell is a professional photographer based in the Southwestern United States. Self-proclaimed thinker, opportunity seeker, picky eater, observer of things.

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Both in the wrong. Meredith should be charged for dangerous use of discharging a firearm, and threatening life with a firearm when he or his family were not in imminent danger. Boggs should be charged with flying his drone illegally.

Full disclosure, I'm a UAV fan, I'm not a gun fan.

Yep I agree.

What was it about his flight that was illegal?

Flying it over the guys property to spy on his daughter. If you had teen-aged daughters, you'd understand the motivation if not the legality.

Flying over buildings (Part 107 does permit flight near non-participating structures {shockingly} but I think that was meant for low density areas. Rows of houses in a neighborhood I doubt would be acceptable), flying over people (Part 107 DOES NOT allow operations over people and would need a waiver from said persons) Being the girl ran in to tell her dad and her dad shot it down, the chances of having one prior or getting a waiver/release after is practically nill.

Under Part 107 is a chargeable offence.

That is if in fact Boggs even passed his Part 107 exam. If he didn't even have that, he's in even more trouble,

@Adrian Lyons. Need I remind you that this occurred in America. You're Canadian so your views regarding gun use are likely going to be different than an American's. Your country's relevant laws are also probably different.

And the drone operator at bare minimum should be put on a sex offender list.

Wow this is a tough one to decide where right and wrong lies. Personally, I think the drone pilot should have avoided flying over the sunbathing child to avoid the appearance of recording the girl on her private property. I think I would personally found another place to go so a confrontation like this could be avoided. It's no doubt a tough lesson. Ouch.

I have to side with Mr. Meredith because I could see myself in his shoes someday.

Well, as a father of 3 (soon to be 4) kids, who regularly play in a pool in our backyard, I can tell you that I wouldn't be too fond of a random drone hovering over them. These things have been known to fall out of the sky, and I really don't need to worry about it falling on their heads. Can't say I blame the guy for shooting it down.

One way to make sure it comes crashing to ground, as you say you fear, is to freaking shoot it out of the sky.

The guys daughter was in the house when he shot it. It's kinda like starting a controlled fire to make firebreak. Kinda.

Morgan, and what damage could it do to other people or property as it crashes down?

I didn't say I'd shoot it down.

It really doesn't matter if the daughter was outside sunbathing or not. A drone was flown in a residential neighborhood over private property. No one has a right to just walk uninvited into someone's yard and look around their property, do they? This is similar to a drone flying over private property, except the drone's operator is hidden from view. The property owner or lessee can't confront a person hiding from view. Therefore, I agree with shooting the drone out of the sky.

Absolutely right.

Actually, no. Part 107, the FAA regulations regarding drone usage DOES NOT prohibit flying near or over structures. While you are correct, people can't just walk into your backyard. They can legally fly over it.

Now, before you jump on me for saying this. Realize this is a law that was passed. If you disagree with it, discuss it with your local counsellor.

I will say this, if the pilot was filming the daughter sun bathing, he is already broken Voyeurism laws in the U.S., which is a felony in some states. Shooting a weapon into the sky is dangerous and illegal in most cases, as it results in accidental deaths around the world every year.

Is it legal to shoot at car that decides to turn around in your driveway; how is shooting a passing drone any different?
Is it legal to shoot somebody using binoculars to look over your fence from their yard, as creepy as they are?

You have no right to fire a gun at anyone or their property unless it is proving immediate risk to your life or in some cases, your property. Guns are real, and simply following the drone back to the pilot (these things have a 20 minute battery life at the most) and taking a photograph of their plates so you can call the cops and have them search the cards for incriminating photographs is the far more responsible and reasonable approach. If this guy is found with photos or videos of your daughter in a bikini in your backyard, he's looking at serious jail time and having to register as a sex offender for the rest if his life. You shooting the drone down only destroys all evidence that could convict him in this case, and opens you up to potential civil lawsuits for damaged property or even loss of life.

Wanna have some fun?
Grab a fishing rod and get some nylon wire wrapped around his rotors, then you can legally look through his memory card in an attempt to identify the owner so you can "return" the drone, and opps.. you happened to find creepy photos of your daughter on there, call the cops and have them confiscate the drone as evidence!

In the short of it; be careful with guns. Shooting into the sky is stupid, and flying over your back yard is no different than a car turning around in your driveway. If they're hovering, call the cops for harassment and suspicion of a peeping-tom.

I tend to side more with the thinking of the neighbor who shot the drone. Where he went wrong was with the threats he made towards his neighbors. I'm sure he's still dealing with repercussions from that

He didn't threaten anyone. He warned them that he would defend himself on his property. That is reasonable and his right.

This is one very angry man. Why not just politely ask the drone operator to stop flying above his home? Bizarre!

I dont think any parent would be happy to see a drone filming their daughter while she is sunbathing in their own backyard... Most are missing this key element here

Regardless your first course of action should not be a weapon. No one's lives were in danger!

You don't have any daughters, do you!?

Satisfaction. That's why lol

Maybe he had no idea who the drone pilot was. If this was a suburb where all the houses had large fences, there would be no way of knowing where the pilot was. Even worse with drones like the Mavic with a 7km range. should he have gone door to door to every house in 7km's?

Not a gun fan, but I have a daughter. If someone were obviously peeping my daughter, Id borrow a gun just so I could shoot it down. I dont think rational thought would have prevailed for me.

Robert Redford's character was running for some political office in a movie. Being a Democrat, someone asked him about his position regarding the death penalty and asked what he'd want if someone raped his daughter (or something like that). He said, 'I'd hunt them down and kill them and then turn myself in because society can't tolerate vigilantes.' I loved that answer.

It's a silly answer. I'd hunt them down and kill them and not turn myself in, content in knowing that that person would never harm anyone again.

And what if you had killed the wrong person?

I wouldn't consider it if I were not sure. Anyway, it's just a hypothetical based on being devastated due to losing a family member and the thought that the criminal would likely strike again if nothing was done. I can certainly understand someone doing it.

And if you were so completely, positively, unquestionably sure who it was and you shot them, dead, but it was proven after the fact. What would you do then.

There have been court cases that have placed people in jail for years. Have sentenced people to die and later, it was discovered were in fact, innocent.

Pulling a gun is a very final solution to a temporary situation.

I think in hindsight, the regret would ruin your life.

Again, hypothetical, but I would make sure. My kind of sureness is not the kind that results in the legal system sending innocent people to jail.

The effects on a woman that's been raped are most certainly not temporary.

You don't know me so don't pretend to know that my life would be ruined.

I see your point but you're assuming his benchmark for "completely, positively, unquestionably sure" is pretty low. Very few people would regard taking someone's life so lightly as to not be certain.

Although, it reminds me of an episode of The Twilight Zone, or something like that, where a man's wife (or daughter?) was beaten and raped. She's catatonic but while driving somewhere, she suddenly gets anxious and tells him she sees the perpetrator. He questions her to make sure she's absolutely sure and then goes back and kills the guy. Afterward, she starts to calm down and as they're driving along, she suddenly gets anxious and tells him she sees the perpetrator...

The reason I liked it is his character, and most likely Robert Redford in real life, are liberals. I can respect someone who disagrees with my POV if they're principled and honest about it, which his character's answer demonstrates.

No offense intended, but most people today that call themselves liberal, are not the kind of people that I would say are honest. Quite the contrary.

None taken. While I never shy away from disagreement, I'm loath to call anyone a liar. I'd rather mistakenly call someone honest than mistakenly call them a liar.

Before rushing to grab a gun you should consider how events like this can inexplicably escalate. You don't want someone's injury or even worse, death on your hands.

That's what I'm saying. I wouldn't have considered anything. It's irrational. Love makes you do stupid things.

@Hans What if your family was in imminent danger of harm? Would you still not be a gun fan?

Nope. The anti-gun argument is more complicated than I care to get into here, but I don't want them in my home.

I'm a little disturbed by some of the comments here. It appears as though many are supportive of pulling out guns and shooting things out the sky!

The supporting statement behind this view is that the person flying the drone over the backyard was perving the guys daughter and that justifies him shooting it down. My question is, how does he know the camera was pointing down? For all he knows, the camera was pointing towards the skyline and happened to be over his backyard at the time.

It also seems to me that many of the pro-shooters side might not have had any experience with drones. If you were to ask anyone with experience about perving out with their drone, they'd laugh. The focal length of drone cameras is so wide, you wold have to be within 10 feet of someone to make out any kind of detail. These things aren't quite a Harley Davidson with straight pipes but they also are not the quietest things. In which case, you wouldn't need a shotgun to take it out, the daughter could have thrown her towel at it and that would have been the end of it.

What police will tell you about discharging a firearm is they not only are concerned with not shooting it but what is beyond their intended target if they do shoot. Those shotgun pellets come back down to earth. Those bullets flying in the air come back down to earth. It's happened before and they've hit and injured people.

There's lot's of complaining about irresponsible drone use and a lot of pro-irresponsible gun use.

That scares me.

Agreed, everyone is jumping to conclusions that the drone was looking at the girl when the operator may not even have known she was down there. Has anybody even looked at the footage and confirmed they were zooming in on her?

Even if he wasn't targeting her, if he didn't know she was there, he's not qualified to pilot the thing. In either case, he had no business flying it in a residential area. But to be honest, I hate everything about drones so my opinion is biased.

I used to be pretty open minded about drones, but I'm beginning to dislike them more and more, and I just finished watching i,Robot and the Matrix 😁

I thought about getting one for my own work but quickly dismissed the idea. To me, they're sorta like smart phones, Toyota Prius's and anything Apple: I don't actually dislike the devices but enough of the users are pure a$$holes that I just can't bring myself to join their group.

I am absolutely flabbergasted! You actually made a joke and even smiled! :-)

Try to envision that emoji not being there. The absense of an emoji doesn't indicate that humor and a smile doesn't exist. I'm having coffee right now. Can you tell with out this? > ☕️ That is assuming you can see the emoji of a coffee cup.

The utility of the things you mentioned have nothing to do with the kind of people you think only buy them. I don't use a smart phone, but I do use a cellular iPad, and you simply don't know what you are missing. I also have an iMac, which is easily the best computer I have ever owned.

Nope. Couldn't tell without the coffee cup, which I could see. This is why I much prefer a face-to-face conversation over anything else.

I try to be precise with my words so I wrote, "enough of the users," rather than "ALL". I try to maintain a healthy mix of logic and emotion. Not everything I do is logical but I try to use each where appropriate. Since not using smartphones, Apple devices or driving a Prius doesn't hurt me, I'll allow my emotions a greater degree of control. (imagine an emoticon of a rather thoughtful Irish gentleman, not unlike Barry FitzGerald)

Well put, Adrian.

I am surprised there are those who believe drones can be flown at will over personal property. Fly one over mine and I'll also take it out of sky.

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