Man Must Pay For Shooting Down His Neighbor’s “CIA Surveillance” Drone

A man in Modesto, California named Eric Joe was excited to try out his new homemade hexacopter this past November. He had just finished building it and had pumped several hundred dollars’ worth of equipment into the flying device.  He took the machine out to his parent’s house and flew it over their orchard in the backyard. He had been flying it for just over three minutes when suddenly a shot rang out and their neighbor Brett McBay blasted it out of the sky with a 12 gauge shotgun. Why would he do that? McBay mistook the hexacopter for a “CIA surveillance drone” -because of course he did. Friggin’ awesome; we are going to need a bigger tin foil helmet.

Brett Mcbay of Modesto, California: Doesn't like people spying on him.

After Joe went to see what happened and retrieve his hexacopter which had been shot out of the sky like it was a bird from Nintendo Duck Hunt, McBay strode over shotgun in hand to inform him that he was the one who downed what he thought was a CIA surveillance drone. The hexacopter did not even have a camera on it, but would not be flying again.  At first Joe tried to do the neighborly thing and resolve the situation. In a series of emails he asked McBay to compensate him for the damage he caused to his property. That’s when things got weird;

First email:

 “It was nice to meet you and your son. I wish it could have been under different circumstances, but I have to give credit to the McBay school of marksmanship. Still, I'm pretty bummed that I just built this hexacopter only to have it shot down. Also, it was a little disconcerting to know that the spread of the birdshot/buckshot was in my direction. In any case, I had a chance to test the components of the downed hexacopter. Good news is that the more expensive components (on the inside of the frame) are intact. Stuff on the outside of the frame took the most damage.”

The evil CIA drone in question recovering from it's injuries on the couch.

Joe asked McBay to reimburse him $700 for all of the damaged parts the shotgun blast had caused to his machine. McBay responded:

“With all do respect $700 dollars seems excessive. Perhaps in SF it's normal for folks to have drones hovering over their property but we live in the country for privacy. I will be willing to split the cost with you but next time let us know your testing surveillance equipment in our area. I'll drop a check of this afternoon.

Joe wrote back:

“I'm sorry, but I must insist on full payment for equipment you damaged, as you shot it when it was above my property. The aircraft's GPS data positions it clearly above our orchard. Additionally, the hexacopter crashed next to our driveway, 203 feet (per Google Maps) from the dirt road that separates our respective properties.

I also dispute your characterization that I was "testing surveillance equipment." There was no camera on the hexacopter, and had a camera been mounted, the price for repairs would have been an extra $300. Just as you asked me to give the courtesy of notifying you of my flying activities, I also ask you the courtesy of not shooting live ammunition in our direction. This is the third time discharge from your firearms has hit our house and property. The first incident left a bullet hole in the door by our garage. The second incident occurred last Thanksgiving when birdshot from your skeet shooting activities rained into our backyard. The third, of course, being what we're currently discussing. I'm hoping to resolve this in a civil manner. An entirely new rig would have cost $1500. Instead, I'm just asking that you pay for what you broke. Let me know if you wish to discuss further.”

All claims are small when you print them in that font.

McBay did not wish to discuss things further and simply responded "Your facts are incorrect, I'm considering the matter now closed.” He then stopped responding to any emails, texts or phone calls. Joe then took McBay to small claims court over the incident. He and his attorney argued that the drone was flying over his own property and only briefly over a shared county access road, which it’s GPS can prove. It did not have a camera or recording equipment on board and use of the shotgun would only be reasonable if McBay had been defending his property.

The traitors in the Big Brother government don’t want to discuss it any further either.

The court ruled in Eric Joe’s favor, awarding him $850 which McBay must pay by the end of the month. Maybe he can send a check or money order to Joe using one of those Amazon delivery drones.

First thing: Hats off to Eric Joe for having some restraint in this situation. I would say if my neighbor kept leaving BULLET HOLES in my house, I would be handling things in less than a “civil manner.” Then again, if your neighbor is a guy who thinks the CIA is spying on him and is loose with a shotgun, maybe speaking slowly and calmly is the best option.

However, I’m not sure why these quick triggered conspiracy types aren’t more excited about the prospect of having drones of their own. Just think of them as flying machine guns; you can make your own!

  Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney

Source:  ARS Technica