After recording aerial video, Kele Stanley was arrested earlier this year for “obstructing official business” and disorderly conduct and misconduct at an emergency.
In the original criminal complaint, a deputy sheriff wrote that both a fire official and a deputy had told Stanley to stop flying his drone because a medical helicopter was about to land, but he had refused.
Stanley has always disputed that. He said he was never warned that a helicopter was coming and that by the time a deputy approached to talk to him, his hexacopter already was on the ground.
While the charge of obstructing official business was summarily dismissed, Stanley’s video evidence was not enough to have the other charges dismissed immediately.
In order to have the charges of disorderly conduct and misconduct at an emergency dropped, Stanley paid court costs and $500 to attend a one-day session about drone laws and regulations, as well as $7000 for his legal defense.
Stanley, who owns a company called Niche Films, said he was never warned that a helicopter was coming and that by the time a deputy approached to talk to him, his hexacopter already was on the ground.
The exchange between Stanley and arresting Deputy Brian Melchi captured on video certainly gives the impression that Stanley was not arrested for violating an already-given order to ground his hexacopter, but for contempt of cop.
In the video, posted below, Deputy Brian Melchi claimed that Stanley was interfering with an incoming helicopter landing, demanded to know who Stanley was with, and only arrested Stanley after he challenged Melchi’s threat to arrest Stanley in the future:
Deputy Melchi: “You will go to jail next time”
Stanley: “I’ll be at all these accidents.”
Deputy Melchi: “Turn around. [Handcuffs Stanley] It’s called disorderly conduct at a crime scene.”
Stanley’s video was enough to have the eventual charge of “obstructing official business charge” dropped, but was unable to provide evidence disproving Deputy Melchi’s statement that a fire official and a deputy had told Stanley to stop flying his drone because a medical helicopter was about to land.
The incoming helicopter that Deputy Melchi supposedly arrested Stanley over was 13 miles away at the time.