William Merideth was dubbed the “Drone Slayer” after he shot down a drone that he believed was spying on his sunbathing daughter in their Hillview, Kentucky, home in July.
Merideth was facing charges of criminal mischief and wanton endangerment, but Judge Rebecca Ward cleared him of all counts on Oct. 26 because at least two witnesses said the drone was flying below the tree line and therefore violated privacy, WDRB News reports.
"He had a right to shoot at this drone, and I'm going to dismiss this charge," Ward said in court, according to WDRB News.
Drone operator David Boggs testified that flight data proved the drone was higher than the witnesses claimed. He provided Ars Technica with footage showing the drone was over 200 feet in the air before it was shot down.
In 1946, the Supreme Court ruled that a North Carolina farmer could assert property rights up to 83 feet in the air, Ars Technica reports.
"What happened in court was unbelievable — I don’t know how to describe how I feel about it," Boggs told Ars Technica after the hearing. "Before [the hearing] was 20 minutes old, [the judge] dismissed the wanton endangerment charge. She said, 'I don’t think anybody’s life was in danger, and I’m going to dismiss that.’"
Merideth disputed the evidence Boggs presented. "That video he shows, that thing looks a mile high, but considering that no one else besides him had the drone and footage in their possession for four days, we don’t know which drone that video was made from," he said. "That doesn’t show the drone made two or three other passes.”
Boggs said he may bring a civil suit against Merideth. "My original thing was for him to just replace the drone, but it’s much bigger than that now — he lies and then doubles down on his lies," he said.