Patterico's Pontifications

7/31/2015

A Question Of Backyard Privacy

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:36 am

[guest post by Dana]

After learning about the two sisters who violated the privacy of a woman texting her paramour while she sat next to her husband at a baseball game, here are a couple of stories about backyard privacy – or the lack thereof…

It all started when a Kentucky father took steps to protect his family’s privacy from a different kind of snooping. William Meredith shot down a drone that was hovering over his backyard where his daughter was sunbathing. He was then arrested first degree wanton endangerment and first degree criminal mischief for firing his gun off. The drone was not confiscated:

“Sunday afternoon, the kids – my girls – were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard,” Merideth said. “And they come in and said, ‘Dad, there’s a drone out here, flying over everybody’s yard.'”

Merideth’s neighbors saw it too.

“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.

VanMeter has a 16-year-old daughter who lays out at their pool. She says a drone hovering with a camera is creepy and weird.

“I just think you should have privacy in your own backyard,” she said.

Merideth agrees and said he had to go see for himself.

“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 under 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.’”

That moment soon arrived, he said.

“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.

Merideth is defending himself:

“He didn’t just fly over,” he said. “If he had been moving and just kept moving, that would have been one thing — but when he come directly over our heads, and just hovered there, I felt like I had the right.”

“You know, when you’re in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy,” he said. “We don’t know if he was looking at the girls. We don’t know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing.”

For now, Merideth says he’s planning on pursuing legal action against the owners of the drone.

“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.”

Another question of backyard privacy occurred when police were called by an alarmed neighbor who witnessed his 81-year old neighbor behaving oddly in his own backyard:

An 81-year-old local man was arrested after police said he was spotted “humping” a bush in the buff.

Wallace Berg, of Russell Road, was charged with second-degree breach of peace and public indecency. He was released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Police said they received a call from a neighbor complaining that Berg was walking around his backyard with no clothes on. They said the neighbor took some video of Berg’s actions, which he later showed them.

After witnessing the bush incident, police said the neighbor told them he confronted Berg who, “stopped the indecent behavior, covered himself with a grill cover, apologized to him and then went into the house.”

Police said Berg had been standing in plain view of anyone who happened to be in the area at the time.

–Dana

63 Responses to “A Question Of Backyard Privacy”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (86e864)

  2. Should get himself a Berg doll (inflatable). “Someone” may even trade him a few terrorists for it.

    rickrelevant (28f865)

  3. but will failmerica hump that bush is the real question

    happyfeet (a81faa)

  4. I predict in a short amount of time, if it doesn;t exist already, there will be portable jammers across the frequencies used by RC quadcopters and such.

    MrScience_ (cd3d49)

  5. Some days I hate the information age.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. A couple of points.

    A) Whoever was flying the drone deserved what they got.
    B. Bullets/pellets don’t get stuck in the air overhead (its not thick enough due to the thinning of the ozone) and thus what goes up must come down.
    C. The law needs to be updated to address drones and what constitutes public airspace and what doesn’t.

    Mark Johnson (751494)

  7. What does he think this is, San Francisco?

    Patricia (5fc097)

  8. In a different era, it would have been completely acceptable for the father to shoot the owner of the drone that was spying on his 16 year old daughter. Now we have issues because he shot down the drone? And this is considered a step forward for feminism, I’m told, because daughters are no longer the property of their fathers or somesuch.

    bridget (1deba5)

  9. A slingshot would have been acceptable.

    JD (3b5483)

  10. MrScience_, at 4: when someone uses a jammer and it causes the remote control of the drone’s navigation to fail and the drone crashes into someone and kills them, who is legally responsible?

    (a) the person using the jammer,

    (b) the operator of the drone,

    ( c) the manufacturer of the jammer,

    (d) the manufacturer of the drone,

    (e) nobody?

    aphrael (c4a2c9)

  11. Commenting on the Reason article on the drone shooter, I predicted, and still predict, a rise in the popularity of bolas amd net-launchers

    C. S. P. Schofield (bd324f)

  12. It’s simple: just say that young Miss Meredith was sunbathing topless, so the drone operator was trying to take child porn pictures. Now he’s busted!

    But, not to worry: this is the Bluegrass State, and Bullitt County isn’t exactly a hotbed of liberalism. If the prosecutor is dumb enough to continue with the charges, all that Mr Meredith has to do is demand a jury trial; no jury in Kentucky would ever convict him, and the judge is just as likely as not to smack down the prosecutor.

    The Dana who grew up in Kentucky (f6a568)

  13. MrScience_, at 4: when someone uses a jammer and it causes the remote control of the drone’s navigation to fail and the drone crashes into someone and kills them, who is legally responsible?

    (a) the person using the jammer,

    (b) the operator of the drone,

    ( c) the manufacturer of the jammer,

    (d) the manufacturer of the drone,

    (e) nobody?

    aphrael (c4a2c9) — 7/31/2015 @ 8:20 am

    What happens when the jammer is engaged? Does it simply remove control from the operator akin to flying out of range of the transmitter? Or does the drone shutdown completely, making an abrupt landing? I can’t believe that their aren’t already guidelines in place because of past experience with “drones”. It’s not as if making a mini helicopter is a new thing. There are clubs of model airplanes, helicopters, and the like all across the country.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  14. Is there a handy dandy guide to what a person can and can not do if a drone comes over their property? The question has occurred to me before.
    And suppose the drone stays in the alley behind your house, or over the property line of a neighbor who is on vacation in Europe? Or a police drone operating under a warrant that you do not know about and are not directly impacted by (for instance, trying to discover if the house next door is a meth lab)? What are your rights then?

    kishnevi (91d5c6)

  15. shooting guns in the city upwards is very dangerous you could kill an orphan or a pizza delivery person or even a beloved pet, depending where your bullet fell

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  16. There’s a WWII case that says that the airspace over your property which you’re not using belongs to the government … (ahem) the public. Which is why you’re not allowed to shoot down that traffic-copter. Or to sue it for trespassing. Or charge it a toll. We’ll need some new law on these low-flying drones, I think.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. Shooting up. How dangerous would that be in reality? It’s a mistake to think that the bullet would come down with the same kinetic energy that it had leaving the barrel.
    Terminal velocity for a bullet or pellet is 90 m/s. That’s about 3/4s the muzzle velocity of a Red Rider BB gun. Watch out Mr. Meridith. You could put your eye out.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  18. here is a discussion of the issue Mr. tiger

    Bullets fired at angles less than vertical are more dangerous, as the bullet maintains its angular ballistic trajectory, is far less likely to engage in tumbling motion, and so travels at speeds much higher than a bullet in free fall.

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  19. It’s like the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, when the troops dive over the side. The camera shows machine gun fire slicing through the water, ripping through soldiers in 10 or more feet of water.

    That is impossible. Here’s video of an actual bullet fired underwater. The water pressure stops the forward motion within six feet.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  20. I’m willing to concede that angular momentum could make a rifled bullet could be dangerous, but shotguns are notoriously non lethal at distance.

    Probably because of that tumbling thing. Pellets spin freely.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  21. Our Windy City barrister wrote:

    There’s a WWII case that says that the airspace over your property which you’re not using belongs to the government … (ahem) the public. Which is why you’re not allowed to shoot down that traffic-copter. Or to sue it for trespassing. Or charge it a toll.

    But young Miss Meredith was using it. She was using that airspace as a conduit for solar radiation, to enable her to tan.

    The nitpicking Dana (f6a568)

  22. aphrael–

    It is the person operating the jammer, since the jammer is illegal. ANY interference with ANY authorized wireless communication is a federal crime under the Communications Act of 1934. Police are even barred from jamming crook’s communications.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  23. Quiet use and enjoyment too. What’s the difference between a drone and your neighbor on your left shooting across your yard at your neighbor on your right?

    nk (dbc370)

  24. There is a big difference between a police helicopter searching for a perp in back years at night, and a quadcopter hovering 50 feet over a yard where girls are sunbathing.

    The danger of shooting a gun upwards is another matter. 90 m/s is pretty fast (190 mph) if it hits you on the head.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  25. *back yards. Damn spell check.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  26. What’s the difference between a drone and your neighbor on your left shooting across your yard at your neighbor on your right?

    Well, do you like your neighbors? Maybe you want them both to lose.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  27. Which is why you’re not allowed to shoot down that traffic-copter. Or to sue it for trespassing. Or charge it a toll.

    What if that traffic copter is hovering 100 feet above your pool? How close can it get before it IS trespassing?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  28. Quiet use and enjoyment again, Kevin. Private nuisance, too.

    nk (dbc370)

  29. Time for the net gun, I’ve been saying

    All you need to bring down a drone – like someone did at a college, twine, tied around a baseball

    EPWJ (ef2bb1)

  30. Also not too many cameras that a drone could lift have resolution from 100 feet they would have to be much closer maybe 30 to 50 feet

    EPWJ (ef2bb1)

  31. The reason why you won’t see anything reasonable come out of this is because the right of local law enforcement agencies to fly drones over private property is a revenue stream that cannot be sacrificed for privacy–more busts, more people in jail, a friendlier war on drugs. In the states that still outlaw cultivation of hemp, the drone is an essential tool. Everything is a racket, of course, and how many lobbyists do drone manufacturers have on their payrolls right now?

    WJS (454a21)

  32. aphrael, I guess liability would depend on the same laws applying to a person who spies on you while you are on your own property. Does someone have the right to film you across the fence? I don’t know.

    Patricia (5fc097)

  33. I secure backyard privacy with Walter, our chessie and a Remmington 12 gauge automatic.
    Gonna be a drone grave yard at some point in time.

    mg (31009b)

  34. all you really need is an EMP device and bam that lil drone’s going right off the grid no muss no fuss

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  35. Police said Berg had been standing in plain view of anyone who happened to be in the area at the time.

    should such a situation really be included in ‘backyard privacy’ ?

    seeRpea (181740)

  36. I think the bush humper needs to get a taller fence—or a less nosy neighbor.

    Comanche Voter (1d5c8b)

  37. The typical quadcopter is made of plastic, a very small motor and a rechargeable battery. Most RC flyers shut down when they do not get the handshake from a controller and hover, in place, for about 60 seconds to try and re-establish contact. Failing that, they reduce power and settle to the ground. They can’t tell if they land on anything, though and shut off power after about 30 seconds of reduced power.

    They do not “fall from the sky”.

    A second possibility is a 10 watt green laser on that camera attached to it. Your property does extend into the air space above your property and the ground below. Trespassing is trespassing.

    Also, just a bit more. Even with buckshot, hitting something that tiny at 300 feet ABG would be a freaking miracle. I call serious shenanigans on the data showing it that high up.

    MrScience_ (cd3d49)

  38. RIP Roddy Piper.

    narciso (ee1f88)

  39. Some alternatives:

    1. Sling shot using rounded ice cubes. (no evidence, but only good to 50 ft)

    2. A fence of helium ballons on 40-lb fishing line. The prevailing wind must to taken into consideration. Also, keep height under 400 ft to avoid FAA issues. (WWI barrage balloons, height depends on balloon size.) The tether line will foul prop if contacted, giving you a chance to reel in a whopper.

    3. High pressure (salted) water with suitable nozzle. (Galvanic corrosion will doom drone if batteries don’t spontaneously ignite, good to about 50 ft)

    4. Ask neighbor to knock it off, or maybe ask him to give you a chance to fly the thing.

    5. Encourage him to join Academy of Model Aeronautics as it provides some liabiltiy coverage, provided, of course, that he uses the model following their guidelines. The notion of liability might penetrate his pot-addled brain, but if he’s just renting the place, most likely not.

    6. Buy a $100 park flyer with controller and engage in a dog fight. This could be fun, but it would be the end of your park flyer. Experienced RC pilots with their powerful foam beasts could down the drone in a few passes. This could be turned into a game where the plane trails a treble hook on a 5 or 10 foot leash, and the object would be to snag the drone without damaging the plane, and then return to base with the trophy.

    bobathome (f50725)

  40. re #38: {sigh}. back in the day when he was active in the ring he was very entertaining in his speaking parts. i liked them more than the action.

    seeRpea (65ab7f)

  41. re #39: i like #6 idea.

    seeRpea (65ab7f)

  42. Since this has already strayed somewhat far afield, the California Dept of forestry (CDF), aka Cal-Fire has been experiencing interference with their efforts from drones. It seems that drone operators are flying into fire areas to get photos and video; this interferes with the aircraft operations in the firefighting. So far the CDF has responded by grounding their aricraft until the drones are gone, fearing mid-air collisions. Recently this has escalated to threats of “serious” legal action against the drone operators.

    The CDF sues a spotter plane (FAC) and I would think that arming them to deal with the drones would bring the matter to a quick resolution. I don’t know enough about these drones to know if the recovered wreckage would be traceable to the owner. Being CA, most likely the owner would want to file a claim against the State for the loss of the drone… excessive force, or “drone lives matter”, or some other foolishness.

    I happen to know that 00-Buck, 12 ga, can be lethal at 100 yds; that would be my go-to load should I find a need…

    Gramps, the original (bc022b)

  43. Damn! “Uses”!! Not sues.

    Gramps, the original (bc022b)

  44. Gramps, bird-shot load in a .22 would be more than enough. These things are extremely sophisticated from an electronic standpoint, and disrupting almost anything would be the end of it.

    bobathome (f50725)

  45. Technology in todays world is jeopardizing freedom. I have no idea the obstacles my daughters will have to prepare for. Keep your filthy hands out of my ice bucket.

    mg (31009b)

  46. I was thinking #2 shot, but your correct, Gramps, oo-Buck shot is a better choice.

    mg (31009b)

  47. So far the CDF has responded by grounding their aricraft until the drones are gone, fearing mid-air collisions. Recently this has escalated to threats of “serious” legal action against the drone operators.

    That’s got to be the stupidest thing I’ve read today. A mid-air collision? More like a bug on the windshield.
    Next you’ll be telling me that CDC aircraft break for geese.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  48. Gramps, the original,

    There has been official action taken as a result of the drones interfering during fire fighting in California:

    Now, San Bernardino County officials are trying to send the message that they’re serious. $25,000 has been set aside for each fire and will go to any person or group that helps the county arrest and convict the drone operators. “We want to know who was flying the drones, and we want them punished,” Chairman Ramos said in a statement, adding that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department will now “actively pursue drone operators” flying in the vicinity of firefighting efforts.

    “District Attorney Mike Ramos warned drone operators that they could and would be prosecuted for murder if their drones led to the death of fire-fighting flight crew or anyone on the ground,” the press release from the county added. The district attorney will be responsible for deciding who will receive the rewards and how much they will receive.

    San Bernardino County also set up a tip hotline that people can use to share information on these drone operators—anonymously if they choose.

    The strong rhetoric is the result of growing concern from public officials as incidents continue to occur. When Ars first reported on the drone incident during the Lake Fire, USFS officials said another drone had also been spotted in the vicinity of the fire, but that drone operator has been caught. However, the drone hadn’t interfered with firefighting air support, so the drone operator wasn’t charged with anything. “We were just trying to educate them,” a USFS spokesperson said. The US Forest Service initiated an informational campaign to tell people about the risks of flying drones around wildfires, posting signs saying “If You Fly, We Can’t.”

    Just weeks later, officials got more serious. State legislators Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) and Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) introduced a bill to permit a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail for “intentional and reckless” drone operation during a fire.

    Dana (86e864)

  49. Judge blocks release of recordings by anti-abortion group

    Judge William Orrick in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order against the Center for Medical Progress hours after the order was requested by the National Abortion Federation.

    In his three-page order, Orrick said the federation would likely suffer irreparable injury absent a temporary restraining order “in the form of harassment, intimidation, violence, invasion of privacy, and injury to reputation.”

    More like the exact definition of their reputation. Eff you judge Orrick. Violence is exactly what you will get. Be thankful if you only get harassment.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  50. Prior restraint. Prior restraint.

    Dude is legislating thought crime.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  51. Gramps, I remember the problem with air drops of water and the drones in the recent fire. Isn’t there some way to shoot them down that won’t harm the people below…air rifles?

    Patricia (5fc097)

  52. No. 4 shot (not #4Buck) from 10-gauge goose gun with a 28-inch barrel will do the job just fine and the shot won’t hurt anybody below unless they’re looking up and get it in the eye.

    nk (dbc370)

  53. If everyone owns the air space over his property, then drones are effectively illegal.

    25,000 has been set aside for each fire and will go to any person or group that helps the county arrest and convict the drone operators

    Can drone operators (and others) put a bounty on overzealous officials? If not, why not?

    ErisGuy (76f8a7)

  54. this interferes with the aircraft operations in the firefighting

    I know. Taking pictures of police officers in public doing their jobs interferes with the police. Drone operations interfere with, well, whatever a government official is doing, and must be stopped.

    If the government could show, real, provable harm, then a blanket law outlawing drone use wouldn’t be necessary.

    Your property does extend into the air space above your property and the ground below.

    Cool. I forbid all aircraft flights over my property, unless and until I get $15,000 per flight. And satellites, well… utterly and completely forbidden. I guess I can launch my anti-sat weapons tonight!

    ErisGuy (76f8a7)

  55. There’s a WWII case that says that the airspace over your property which you’re not using belongs to the government … (ahem) the public

    Seized my property without compensation again. Dang nab it.

    ErisGuy (76f8a7)

  56. Where on a drone is the immediate kill point?

    mg (31009b)

  57. Do you remember when we had to use little alcohol-powered engines that we started with a wound-up string?

    nk (dbc370)

  58. Yes, nk. And open reel mowers. I loved those.

    mg (31009b)

  59. Dead center it is.

    mg (31009b)

  60. You mess with the rose bush, ya get the thorns

    Colonel Haiku (3bf827)

  61. Police said Berg had been standing in plain view of anyone who happened to be in the area at the time.

    I do think that there’s a reason one puts in a “privacy fence”, but the idea that he was in full public view seems equally absurd.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  62. The CDF grounded their helicopters until the drone left.
    That really hurts firefighting because the helicopters are so precise compared to the fixed wing attack.
    I wonder though why they didnt just dump Phos-Chek on the drone. That stuff hits hard and even if they just got close the mist would foul the cameras and probably kill the electronics

    steveg (fed1c9)


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