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Video Drone Flight Leads to Felony Charges

Caleb Ward
By Caleb Ward
By Caleb Ward

An Ohio man faces felony charges after refusing to land his video drone.

Kele Stanley, a videographer and drone enthusiast in Ohio has been charged with a felony after officials say he refused to land his drone in order for a medical chopper to land at a crash scene.

Stanley allegedly came across the accident while driving and began flying his $4,000 drone above a pickup truck that had crashed into a tree. Stanley told reporters that he was planning on turning over the footage to a local news station as he had done in the past.


Image Courtesy of Careflight

When an officer asked him to down the drone, Stanley refused stating that there was no law in Ohio prohibiting him from using the drone. This is true, as of right now there are no laws or regulations in Ohio prohibiting the use of unmanned aircraft for amusement purposes. However, commercial use is illegal.

Authorities state that they told Stanley of the helicopter’s approaching and he refused to down the drone. Stanley disputes these claims stating, “I’m not an idiot. If I had known that Care Flight was on the way, my helicopter would have come down immediately. There wouldn’t have been any dispute.”

Stanley pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of obstructing official business and misdemeanor charges of misconduct at an emergency and disorderly conduct.

The entire case brings into question the larger debate over the legalities of using unmanned drones for film and video use. Additional debates surrounding the legal use of drones extend from police surveillance to Amazon’s drone delivery plan.

What do you think? As professionals utilizing new video technology, we’re curious what restrictions, if any, you feel should be placed on video drone usage? Share in the comments below.