Neighbor shoots down drone near Robert Duvall’s property


Farquier Times:

Neighbor shoots down drone near Robert Duvall’s property

They might or might not have been from the National Enquirer, but two men flying a drone over the home of Fauquier County resident and Hollywood icon Robert Duvall learned a quick lesson in country living when the drone drifted over the home of Duvall’s neighbor, Jennifer Youngman, a few weeks ago.“I was cleaning my .410 gauge and .20 gauge on my front porch when I noticed them,” she recalled of the mid-June incident.
Youngman has been neighbors with Duvall for a few years, after Duvall moved into his current residence. She describes him as a very nice gentleman who appreciates the quietness of Fauquier County.

     A  longtime county resident, Youngman said the intruding pair quickly  brought attention to themselves when they exited their SUV, parked in  front of Duvall's residence.

“I put two and two together. They set up a card table and began flying it across the field. The cows were being disturbed, and I thought these might have been some of the same people who have been run off in the past,” she said.
Youngman said a series of burglaries in the area a few years ago, coupled with sightseers, has caused an increase in neighborhood awareness, as well as action by Duvall’s security team.

She said the pair appeared to lose control of the drone as the wind picked up, pushing the drone over her pasture.
“They were going a little too fast and they went over my airspace. I had my .20-gauge there, so I put two 71/2 birdshot shells in it, and there you are.”
Youngman said the men began yelling at her, but fled in a black Range Rover when she threatened to call the police.
. . .
“I have a bit of regret, I had small pieces of drone all over my pasture. It’s already given me two flat tires on my tractor,” she noted.

So should it be legal to shoot down drones? As far as I know you don’t own the airspace over your property or you could charge airlines tolls.


Well, its obvious they were up to no good, when they left the area when she threatened to call police, that not something an innocent person would do imo.


Actually courts have ruled that you do own up to at least 83 feet above your property definitively (US v Causby (1946)). And potentially up to 500 feet. If that drone was under 80 feet I say good riddance and the laws on such thing so far would seem to agree.


I would regret it too - two shots for one cheap drone?


I think the legality of what she did is still up in the air.

[quote=Ars Technica]For now, American law does not recognize the concept of aerial trespass. But as the consumer drone age has taken flight, legal scholars have increasingly wondered about this situation. The best case-law on the issue dates back to 1946, long before inexpensive consumer drones were technically feasible. That year, the Supreme Court ruled in a case known as United States v. Causby that a farmer in North Carolina could assert property rights up to 83 feet in the air.

Last year, a pilot in Stanislaus County, California, filed a small claims lawsuit against a neighbor who shot down his drone and won. However, it is not clear whether the pilot managed to collect. Similarly, a case ensued in Kentucky after a man shot down a drone that he believed was flying above his property. The shooter in that case, William Merideth, was cleared of local charges, including wanton endangerment.

But earlier this year, the Kentucky drone’s pilot, David Boggs, filed a lawsuit asking a federal court in Louisville to make a legal determination as to whether his drone’s flight constituted trespassing. Boggs asked the court to rule that there was no trespass and that he is therefore entitled to damages of $1,500 for his destroyed drone. The case is still pending.


Should it be legal. I believe it should. My buckshot has more right to the airspace over my property than another’s drone. Think of it as a mid-air collision.


Just wait until someone figures out how to use a drone for crime, or even worse, how to arm one!


Note that consumer UAV’s are not allowed to y above 400 feet without prior permission from the FAA.


Drones are simply disturbing. The only point of flying them in private property is if the “pilot” is up to no good.

Also, drones could be in the hands of perverts besides burglars. :eek:


The occurrence is pretty tickling, when you recall Duvall’s character in “Second Hand Lions,” who instantly greeted every intruder on his property with a shotgun, and used it to catch fish with as well.


True. Which means this UAV was likely in the neighbor’s airspace, or in the legal grey area. In either case the shooter was by no means definitely in the wrong. But there’s a decent chance the pilot was in the wrong, particularly if he was under 83 feet or above 400 feet. And none of that takes into account nuisance laws, potential privacy violations depending on the lay of the land on which the drone was shot, etc…

Frankly this is one area of law I hope gets settled sooner rather than later either via legislatures or the courts. Because UAVs have great potential to be abused (both intentionally and unintentionally) and the public needs some definite recourse on how to deal with them when they cross what to most of us seem like pretty clear lines (like flying low over someone else’s property that’s been reasonably shielded from view).


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