A Hawaii man was tased and arrested for flying a drone at a national park Saturday in front dozens of shocked witnesses who say the ranger went completely overboard.
But Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park spokesperson Jessica Ferracane said it was necessary to tase him in order to keep everybody safe.
After all, she says, it is illegal to fly drones in any national park in this country.
“Apparently the suspect was very unpredictable and very unruly and the national park service ranger was really unclear what his next actions would be and needed to stop this individual,” said Ferracane.
But Travis Sanders said he had no idea it was illegal to fly a drone in national parks when he was confronted by a park ranger, whom he described as angry and confrontational. He said he brought the drone down and started to leave the park with his family.
“A guy approached me in the dark and said, ‘Bring it down!’ and he was very angry. I had no idea he was a ranger. He sounded very angry, confrontational — like he wanted to fight — and I didn’t really want to stick around for it so I just told him, ‘I don’t have ID and I’m leaving’,” described Sanders.
But that is exactly what merited the tasering, said the park spokeswoman.
“The suspect refused to identify himself and fled — not far from the edge of the caldera, which is more than 500 feet. The ranger deployed his taser to stop the fleeing suspect and then arrested the suspect for failure to comply with a lawful order and interferring with agency functions,” said Ferracane.
Sanders, 35, was at Hawai’i Volcanoes with his wife and daughter, along with more than 100 other people, watching and photographing a rising lava lake in a volcanic crater.
He brought his 3-inch micro quadcopter to capture the lava from above, never expecting it land him in jail overnight.
A witness captured the exchange between Sanders and the ranger after he had been tased.
“Why the hell did you run?” the ranger asks.
“Why the hell did you shoot me with a stun gun because I flew a remote controlled helicopter?” Sanders responds.
Sanders was charged with interfering with agency functions and operating an aircraft on undesignated land.