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?