"It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off," said neighbor Kim VanMeter.
So, he says it was over his yard, the kids say it was over their yard, the neighbor says it was over their yard. Does anyone, including the drone owners, dispute that? One would have a hard time arguing it wasn't over their yard.
"Within a minute or so, here it came," he said. "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," he added.
That seems like something provable. He only fired one shot, correct? And we know where the drone crashed, and where he was, so we can probably determine if that's a false statement. It doesn't seem like it. He must have shot up in the air, because he hit the drone, and the drone was in the air. And it crashed in a field near his house, not in a neighbor's yard, so the statement that he did not fire over his neighbor's fence does not seem false on the face of it. I wonder if his neighbor actually saw the shot, too.
As for warning about a falling drone, don't know. And we don't know if it was necessary. We'd need a better look at his neighborhood, and the reasonable assumptions one could make (or not make out) about the trajectory of a crashing drone. It depends on how populated his neighborhood is. But nothing in the article indicated any possibility of it hitting someone while crashing. Possible, sure, but you'd think that issue would have been explored if it existed.
The article says he was charged under the Kentucky Revised Statutes with "wanton endangerment in the first degree" and "criminal mischief." Here's the wanton endangerment statute:
508.060 Wanton endangerment in the first degree.
(1) A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to an other person.
(2) Wanton endangerment in the first degree is a Class D felony.
Do you think he exhibited "extreme indifference to the value of human life" and created "a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury?" Clearly not from the shotgun blast. As every hunter and student of simple physics in this thread has already said, there's no danger from falling pellets. And if the direction of the blast checks out (not at anyone, not over his neighbor's fence, etc) then the blast itself did not create any danger to human life.
So how about the falling drone? If he shot the drone down in a crowded area, where it would almost certainly hit someone, then yes. That does not appear to be the case, though. Nothing from the story indicates there was any significant risk of it crashing into someone. If that had been the case, you'd think they'd put it in the story. Obviously that needs to be confirmed, but I think it's likely. If no reasonable person could believe the drone had a reasonable chance of crashing into someone, then I don't see how you can convict him of wanton endangerment.
So how about criminal mischief?
I'm assuming it's in the first degree, as the value of the drone was over $1,000.
512.020 Criminal mischief in the first degree.
(1) A person is guilty of criminal mischief in the first degree when, having no right to do so or any reasonable ground to believe that he has such right, he intentionally or wantonly defaces, destroys or damages any property causing pecuniary loss of $1,000 or more.
(2) Criminal mischief in the first degree is a Class D felony.
Well he did intentionally destroy property causing loss of more than $1,000. So the question is did he have a right to do so, or any reasonable ground to believe he has such a right? He clearly believes so. He believes he has the right to destroy a spy camera hovering in his backyard. Whether or not that's reasonable is up to a jury. But in Kentucky? Own backyard? Father? Kids who could either be injured if the drone crashes on its own, or by the drone pilot intentionally, or at the very least be spying on them taking pictures? I'd bet a Kentucky jury of his peers would agree that Meredith had reasonable grounds to destroy a spy camera on his property. You own your airspace up to 300ft per the FAA, and there are Supreme Court decisions that agree you have property rights over your airspace.
I hope he takes it to a jury. I'd like to see what they say. I bet he will, too. He believes he's right, and I bet a defense attorney would love this case, if not just for the news spotlight alone.