U.S. News


First American Jailed In Drone-Assisted Arrest Gets 3 Years

A North Dakota rancher will go down in history as the first U.S. citizen to be convicted and jailed thanks to evidence gathered by a drone.
Posted at 11:52 AM, Jan 30, 2014

A North Dakota rancher will go down in history as the first U.S. citizen to be convicted and jailed thanks to evidence gathered by a drone.

It all started back in 2011 when cattle rancher Rodney Brossart was accused of stealing six of his neighbor's stray cattle, according to WDAY.

Brossart reportedly refused to return the animals to his neighbor, and police were called to the scene. 

But the rancher and his family didn't appreciate that, and The Telegraph reports they terrorized the officers with guns and refused to let them search the 3,600 acre farm.

According to RT, a SWAT team was then called in to deal with the police standoff. But after 16 hours, the situation still wasn't resolved, so the team called in a Predator drone that was on loan from the Department of Homeland Security.

The drone was able to pinpoint Brossart and each of his three sons' locations, and police were notified once officials were sure it was safe to start making arrests.

Fox News reports five family members were taken into custody on terrorizing charges thanks to the drone's monitoring.

Although a jury found Brossart not guilty of stealing his neighbor's cattle, the Grand Forks Herald says he was sentenced to three years in prison for his part in the police standoff — and the video supplied by the drone helped put him away. (Via Grand Forks Herald)

Many believe this won't be the last time drones are used to put Americans behind bars.

Forbes points out the use of drones for police missions is definitely on the rise. "[Customs and Border Protection] Predator drones flew 700 missions between 2010 and 2012 for other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local police departments."

A federal judge rejected a motion by Brossart's attorney to have the case thrown out because the drone surveillance was conducted without a warrant.