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May 5, 2014
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Video Production

Video Drone Flight Leads to Felony Charges

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.

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  • John Maciel

    Sounds more like this is a case of he said she said about obstructing an emergency scene.. the part of it being a drone (which may or may not be the correct term depending on the manor in which the device is operated) isn’t and shouldn’t be a factor at all.. did the person obstruct in some way or not, and without proof of the conversation he will probably loose the battle.

  • BigDaddyD

    Its Ohio… I’m from there and the police will say and do whatever they want. However, being a “drone” pilot myself, I feel people that misuse our hobby like this are simply irresponsible and idiots! There is NO NEED for a hobby-level drone at any emergency site…PERIOD!

    • Jamie

      $4,000 sounds like more than hobby level drone. But in any case I would question why a ‘professional level’ drone should be allowed at an emergency scene anymore than the hobbyist unless that professional is part of the emergency services. Main issue is if the drone is safe and pilot uses it responsibly -i.e. not flying over or near people or property.

  • Kele
  • Pingback: No Fly Zone: This Interactive Map Shows Where Drones are Prohibited | Premiumbeat.com

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