Why the First Drone Arrest Isn’t About the Drone at All

It was bound to happen. This week, for the first time ever, a person was sentenced to jail in a case where law enforcement used an unmanned aerial vehicle. Judging by the reaction, plenty of journalists see this as a watershed event—especially as the man, cattle rancher Rodney Brossart, argued that the drone was “dispatched without judicial approval or a warrant.”
Here’s the case in a nutshell: Brossart refused to return another rancher’s cows, which had wandered into his property, instigating a 16-hour armed standoff with police and SWAT teams. The local cops asked the Department of Homeland Security if they could borrow a Predator drone to locate the man and his sons. After that happened, Brossart surrendered. He was acquitted of the theft of the cows, but the jury found him guilty of terrorizing the police.

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