Skip to comments.Court Upholds Domestic Drone Use in Arrest of American Citizen
Posted on 08/02/2012 2:05:24 PM PDT by Myrddin
A North Dakota court has preliminarily upheld the first-ever use of an unmanned drone to assist in the arrest of an American citizen.
A judge denied a request to dismiss charges Wednesday against Rodney Brossart, a man arrested last year after a 16-hour standoff with police at his Lakota, N.D., ranch. Brossart's lawyer argued that law enforcement's "warrantless use of [an] unmanned military-like surveillance aircraft" and "outrageous governmental conduct" warranted dismissal of the case, according to court documents obtained by U.S. News.
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District Judge Joel Medd wrote that "there was no improper use of an unmanned aerial vehicle" and that the drone "appears to have had no bearing on these charges being contested here," according to the documents.
Court records state that last June, six cows wandered onto Brossart's 3,000 acre farm, about 60 miles west of Grand Forks. Brossart allegedly refused to return the cows, which led to a long, armed standoff with the Grand Forks police department. At some point during the standoff, Homeland Security, through an agreement with local police, offered up the use of an unmanned predator drone, which "was used for surveillance," according to the court documents.
Grand Forks SWAT team chief Bill Macki said in an interview that the drone was used to ensure Brossart and his family members, who were also charged, didn't leave the farm and were unarmed during the arresting raid.
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Brossart faces felony terrorizing and theft of property charges and a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge. Although his charges weren't dismissed, Brossart won a motion to move the trial from Nelson Countywhich has a population of 3,100to nearby Grand Forks County.
Brossart is believed to be the only American citizen who was arrested with the assistance of a drone on U.S. soil. John Villasenor, of the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, says the legality of domestic drone use likely stems from two Supreme Court cases that allow police to use "public, navigable airspace" for evidence gathering.
Domestic drone use has become a controversial topic over the past several months, with Congress directing the Federal Aviation Administration to devise guidelines for proper drone use.
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Wednesday, Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Edward Markey released a draft of a bill that would require private drone operators to inform the government of any data collected by drones and would require law enforcement to "minimize the collection of information and data unrelated to the investigation of a crime."
States are "increasingly using unmanned aircraft systems in the United States, including deployments for law enforcement operations," according to the bill. There "is the potential for unmanned aircraft system technology to enable invasive and pervasive surveillance without adequate privacy protections."
In April, Brossart told U.S. News that he thought the SWAT team use of the drone was "definitely" illegal. Some estimates suggest that there may be as many as 30,000 unmanned drones operated in the United States by 2020 for uses such as wildfire containment and surveillance, law enforcement, and surveying.
What makes this different is "military-like surveillance aircraft." Are these domestic drones used by state or local law enforcement, or are they military equipment used against the civilian population. If it is the latter, it is a violation of Posse Comitatus.
the cameras on these things are satillite quality and they dont have to be very close to see everything. Cameras that can read text messages from across a 50K person stadium. Dont think that you can protect yourself.
Are these domestic drones used by state or local law enforcement, or are they military equipment used against the civilian population.
that distinction is blurring
And the guy dug his heels in.
“In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into peoples windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.”
Not wanting to spend years in a forced labor camp, Winston had decided to not think about a tasty Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, particularly since learning that comrades had been turned over to the Illinois Civil Rights commission, charged with thoughtcrime.
“Behind Winstons back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live did live, from habit that became instinct in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized. Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing.”
“Winston turned round abruptly. He had set his features into the expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing the telescreen.”
Should we begin practicing setting our features into expressions of quiet optimism?
I guess the guy was claiming open range laws in regs to the cattle on his property and would not give the cattle back.
The dumb asshole could have claimed damages if the cattle had done some.
Free Range laws are different in each state. And they cause a lot of problems when city folks move into the country. Being from the country, I dont have any problem with cattle on my property as long as they are watched. I generally get them out away from my buildings if they come in.
One tends to think of the big drones used on the Middle East. But I can tell you that development is already well under way on drones the size of birds and insects. Don’t think they will be flying overhead. They might be perched in a tree or on a wall.
And when they stray..we let our neighbors know.
How would having a drone fly over be any different than a private citizen fly his light plane over and take pictures or report live what he was seeing?
Yes i will when i shoot it down and ill own a drone too !
Just drape your whole property in camo netting and then maybe you’ll be ok. Until they install the FLIR on the drones so they can have night vision and see through walls.
Consider this device sitting on your bedroom window sill. Consider if that bedroom window is on a second story window facing the back yard. No way to peer inside short of being right on the window sill. Is that an unreasonable violation of your 4th Amendment rights?
In my neighborhood two story houses are built back to back so the one could see into a second story window of another across the yards.
Shall I not look out my windows on the upper floor for fear of gazing into my neighbor's room? Or do I have the right to look at anything that is outside my window?
“No way to peer inside short of being right on the window sill.”
That's what blinds and curtains are for.
For a actual example: A painting crew is painting the outside of a three story condo while a woman is nude sunbathing on her nearby two story balcony.
Are her rights being violated if one side of that building has lots of extra paint on it?
So really there's no difference between a drone or a plane or a satellite flying over and taking pictures of whatever is visible to whatever instruments they carry.
“Is that an unreasonable violation of your 4th Amendment rights?”
Someone leans a ladder against my house to see in the second story window? Yes.
Someone sits in their second story room and looks my direction, No.
You do that. Let me know how it works out for you.
Sure it would be but where is this happening? The technology already exists to accomplish what such a drone might.
Simple fact is if someone wants to know badly enough what you say and do in your house or apartment they can find out and there’s little you can do about it.
And they don’t need a drone.
I know. I’m just staying on topic to explore the consequences of the court ruling with respect to drones.
“Best to simply restrict the warrant-less use of drones for surveillance on homes as unreasonable search and seizure, than to rely on airspace rights.”