Farmer Is First American Jailed Thanks to a Drone

North Dakota cops used Predator to help end farmer's standoff

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 28, 2014 3:25 PM CST | Updated Feb 1, 2014 7:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Given how common it is for law-enforcement agencies to use drones these days, this milestone was only a matter of time: A North Dakota farmer has become the first American to be convicted and sentenced to prison with the help of a drone, reports US News & World Report. Rodney Brossart earned the distinction on Jan. 14 when he got sentenced to 3 years for a standoff with police at his cattle ranch, though all but six months of the sentence were suspended.

The trouble began when a few cows from a neighboring ranch wandered onto Brossart's property, and he refused repeated requests to give them back, reports the Grand Forks Herald. This eventually resulted in an armed standoff between police and Brossart and his three sons, and Homeland Security lent the use of a Predator drone whose surveillance helped police end the showdown. A Forbes post says the case raises questions about aerial surveillance in general, now that it's becoming so inexpensive. "We could face a future where the skies are criss-crossed by police drones tracking suspected criminals, and in the process, spying on the rest of us," writes Michael Peck. (More drone news: The DEA and other agencies are borrowing drones more often than we thought.)

File photo of a Predator drone.
File photo of a Predator drone.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin/file)
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