The Corner

Drone Surveillance Leads to Man’s Arrest, Prison Sentence

Rodney Brossart has a unique distinction, although it may not be one he wanted. The North Dakota man became the first person to be sentenced as a result of drone surveillance in the United States.

Brossart’s three-year sentence comes following a 116-hour stand-off with a SWAT team on his ranch in 2011. The team was called in after Brossart resisted arrest for not returning livestock from a neighboring farm that had wandered on to his property; Brossart and his three sons then engaged in the stand-off before authorities brought in the Predator drone.

On loan from Customs and Border Patrol, the drone assisted the SWAT team and police from monitoring the Brossart men and eventually led to their arrest when authorities determined it was safe. Brossart’s attorney argued that the use of the drone was illegal without a warrant, but a U.S. district court upheld its use because it “appears to have had no bearing on these charges being contested here.”

Brossart’s two-and-a-half years in supervised probation will be taken into account for his sentence, leaving him with six months in prison. His sons were charged with misdemeanors. “I recognize that I should have handled the situation differently,” a remorseful Brossart said from the courthouse following his sentencing. “I take responsibility for my actions, and I will do what I can to ensure it won’t happen again.”

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