So everyone in the drone industry is talking about the idiot that deployed a shotgun in order to bring down his neighbor’s homemade hexacopter last November.
The verdict in that case, announced just last week, brought to a close the first known lawsuit involving the use of a firearm against a civilian’s unmanned aerial vehicle. A small claims court judge ordered Mr. Drone Hater to pay his aggrieved drone-flying neighbor $850 in damages for the destroyed craft.
It is rumored criminal charges against the dummy are also pending.
As they should be.
Look, living in a densely populated suburb on Cleveland’s Eastside myself, there are many, many things my neighbors do that bother me. Some play their music too loud late at night, some don’t cut their lawns often enough for my liking, leaving me to have to constantly stare across the street at a Jumanji-like jungle of two foot tall weeds. Heck, living a block from the local public high school, there are times when the students use my finely groomed side yard as their convenient shortcut home.
As much as these things can irk me at times, especially when I’m already in a bad mood, there’s no amount of annoyance in the world that justifies using a deadly weapon in such a reckless and dangerous manner – as this “gentleman” allegedly did.
Mr. Drone Hater could have easily saved himself the $850 (as well as hefty legal fees I would assume) by simply calling the authorities and reporting the drone as a trespasser. Had that occurred, the local police would probably come out, make contact with the pilot, ask him to not operate his drone over his neighbor’s property and everybody could have moved on with their lives.
But the real kicker in this case is the fact that the judge found the drone in question wasn’t actually on or over the defendant’s property. And the defendant’s claim of the drone possibly being used to illegally surveil him? The homemade hexacopter lacked any type of imaging equipment.
Basically, this guy saw a drone operating near his property, got all paranoid that the NSA or some other clandestine government organization was spying on him (what are you really hiding, Mr. Drone Hater?) and took matters into his own hands in a hasty manner. And for that, he deserves to be treated just as any criminal that destroys someone else’s property without cause.
So, while the case was an interesting follow and it established a legal precedent that destroying a UAV just because you don’t agree with the technology is a criminal act, let’s all learn from this and move on with our lives. I know there are lots of folks out there that aren’t fans of drones, but I like to think most folks at their core are reasonable and have more sense than whipping out the nearest firearm and taking matters into their own hands.
The lesson on this one, and it’s not something that should cost an adult $850 to finally learn: Don’t be a vigilante, and think before you act. Hell, go talk to the pilot, ask some questions and find out what’s going on. BE A MAN ABOUT IT.
Unless you want to be sued/face criminal charges. If that’s the case, then I say go for it.