- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) - A prosecutor has dropped charges against a man who deputies said was flying a drone equipped with a video camera that hindered the landing of a medical helicopter at an accident scene.

Kele Stanley, of Springfield, had faced a felony charge of obstructing official business and misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and misconduct at an emergency.

Charges were dropped at a hearing Monday as part of a deal that involved Stanley paying $500 to attend a one-day session about drone laws, the Columbus Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1GqqD5A ).

“I think that there are things Mr. Stanley could have done differently that day, but I also think that law enforcement could have handled it differently,” said Springfield prosecutor Marc Ross.

Stanley, who said the case cost him more than $7,000 to defend, maintains he wouldn’t change anything he did the day of his arrest.

“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” he said.

Stanley, 32, a copy-machine repairman who owns a company called Niche Films, was flying his professional-grade hexacopter, which cost more than $4,000, above a rural Clark County crash scene on April 12. He was shooting the video as a hobby and planned to give the footage to local television stations, as he had before.

Both a fire official and a deputy told Stanley to stop flying his drone because a medical helicopter was about to land, but he refused, a deputy wrote in the original criminal complaint.

Stanley has always said he was never warned that a helicopter was coming and by the time a deputy approached to talk to him, his drone was already on the ground.

To fly while knowing a full-size helicopter was approaching would be both stupid and irresponsible, Stanley said.

The footage of his arrest captured by Stanley’s video recorder appears to back his story. Ross said the video made a difference in his willingness to resolve the case without a conviction.

“Hopefully, everyone learned something here on both sides,” the prosecutor said. “This is new technology, and it’s not going anywhere. We’re going to have to learn how to deal with it appropriately.”


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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