Court Upholds Arrest of First US Citizen Based on Drone Surveillance

Judge: No Improper Use of Drone

by Jason Ditz, August 03, 2012

A judge at a district court in North Dakota has issued the first ruling on domestic drone use, saying that the arrest of a man during which surveillance drones were used was not “improper” and that it has “no bearing” on charges brought against the man.

The arrest was the result of a dispute over laws in North Dakota surrounding wandering livestock, and police attacked the man, Rodney Brossart, on his property after he refused to return six cows which had wandered onto his property.

Brossart’s lawyer sought the charges of “criminal mischief” thrown out because of the warrantless use of drones, as well as a number of other “constitutional violations” including tasering him.

The relatively minor charges against Brossart may well serve as the first legal precedent for police use of surveillance drones against civilians on American soil. The prosecution had argued that the “mischief” was committed before the drones were deployed, and that therefore they weren’t relevant to the charges.

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