Drone Journalist Charges Cleared After Arrested For Recording Protests
Freedom of access to information is something that is nowadays described as a contagious if described by the journalists who have been arrested and charged in court for various crimes against humanity. Drone journalist in specific are arrested much more frequently as the drones not only gather and record information, they also film and can be a danger if flown close to people especially during a riot or protestors. However, information has to be delivered to the people in all ways regardless of the means used is the opinion of some. Well to this specific journalist; Aaron Turgeon, that was not the case.
Case Against Aaron Turgeon
Last year on October 31st, Aaron learns that he has been charged at court for a crime he claims that he never committed. He even records his voice and uploads it on YouTube saying that he is being charged with something that he never did. The case against him stated that he had used his drone as a journalist to record protests that were being led by the Native Americans. The protests were in regards to the commencing construction of the pipeline called the Dakota Access that was designed or drawn to run across their land.
For flying the drone during the protest, the journalist was arrested and charged with several felony or criminal and misdemeanor counts including reckless endangerment of people and the physical obstruction of a government aided or developing function. He is said to have documented and brought to light many functions that went on during the protests against the construction of the pipeline. He is said to have posted the information, live streamed it and added videos of the protests as well documenting the whole movement. He also has aerial documentations and videos that show police officers shooting tear gas cans and water cannons at the protestors. This is as described by the Motherboard another news agency. He was said to face a minimum jail term of around seven years as the case was being held on Thursday but was later cleared and found to be not guilty of all the charges leveled against him.
The police had accused him of flying the drone in a plane or a helicopter over the protestors that endangered the lives of the police and the protestors as well. However, Aaron tells a different story and is even intrigued by how the police could think of that and be accused of committing such an act. The video provided to the court was intended to show the journalist’s drone flying over the protestors. However, after 30 or so minutes, the drone is seen, but nowhere near the said protestors were camped and certainly wasn’t endangering anyone. According to information gained from the motherboard, the journalist had also been accused of indifference in the extremes in regards to human life.
The charges are associated with flying a drone above the police and the protestors especially the charge regarding misdemeanor and reckless endangerment. They claimed that the drone could have caused massive injuries to people that could be lethal in nature. Flying a drone close to people is an offense but the journalist says that he didn’t fly close to people and he is qualified and landed immediately he was approached by the police.
Just as indicated, the case was arraigned in court and was listened to and determined on Thursday. Even though the police had a tight case, there was simply not denying that the journalist Aaron Turgeon had been framed starting with the video provided. In addition, the state laws that have been issued while arresting the journalist were rarely used against a drone pilot and laws in regards to the airspace are governed by the aviation administration instead of the local law enforcement group which is another fact. The judge finally concluded that the journalist Aaron Turgeon had no case to answer and therefore, he was cleared and released.
If thinking that Aaron Turgeon is not the only journalist to have faced jail term after being accused of wrongful use of his drone or information gained or acquired, think again. Another journalist Amy Goodman was also arrested after documenting a riot. She was charged with participating in the riot after releasing records and films that showed the protests and what happened during the protests in October of the same year. The journalist writes and provides news for Democracy Now was later cleared of all the charges that had been filed against her.
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Journalists are viewed as enemies as they bring to light what we want to keep hidden. Therefore, as a journalist, it is essential that you keep your safety at par and ensure that you follow the stated laws before engaging in any activities. In addition, it is fundamental that you provide quality information and document the happenings in the right manner, be considerate of human right and work towards preserving it at all times. With all this, regardless of the charges placed on your head, you know that eventually you will be cleared just like Aaron Turgeon and Amy Goodman.