CT Woman Given Slap on the Wrist for Violent Battery of Quadcopter

Andrew Meyer

Connecticut Woman Given Slap on the Wrist for Violent Battery of Quadcopter Pilot

Two months ago, PINAC reported on the attack of a quadcopter pilot by a crazed woman named Andrea Mears, who punched, scratched and tore the shirt of teenager Austin Haughwout.

Despite committing a brutal assault, then lying to police, Mears received probation last month.

Mears accused Haughwout of “taking close ups of people in bikinis” with his quadcopter. The video from the camera of Haughwout’s quadcopter proved Mears’ allegation was completely false, as Haughwout was only taking landscape video of Hammonassett State Park in Madison, Connecticut.

While police initially believed Mears, Haughwout’s video saved him, and Mears was arrested for Assault in the 3rd Degree and Breach of Peace in the 2nd Degree. Mears faced up to a year and a half in jail and a $3,000 fine on the combined charges, but was granted a form probation which will erase the charges from her record after two years.

According to Forbes:

According to Haughwout, the police responded to the assault in 10 or more vehicles. They first listened to her story in which she claimed Haughwout assaulted her, that he “was taking close ups of people in bikinis” and that she had asked Haughwout to stop flying before calling the police, but he refused.
After hearing her side of the story, the police approached, clearly intending to arrest Haughwout. However, before they could place him under arrest he told the police that he recorded the entire incident. Haughwout stated, “I had video evidence that she went nuts completely unprovoked, and was the one that assaulted me.” He explained how he showed the police the video from his last flight “which proved that she lied when claiming that she asked me to stop flying before calling the police.” Haughwout provided copies of the videos to the police for their use in the case against her.

Haughwout does not believe Mears’ penalty is severe enough, and said he believed that if a man had assaulted a woman, the court penalty would have been more severe. “If a guy assaults a girl, he’d be sitting in jail waiting for his court date,” said Haughwout.

According to Forbes, Haughwout is still flying his quadcopter, but not as frequently, and always with his camera phone running.

Mears’ actions may have been a crazy outlier, but there are plenty of people who don’t know that in general, it is perfectly legal to fly a “drone,” and aerial photography is not a crime.

For news tips on aerial photography and drones, contact Andrew Meyer, PINAC’s staff writer covering UAV photography, the First Amendment, and more. Follow him on twitter @theandrewmeyer.


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