Drone Farmer Arrest? N. Dakota Farmer Arrested, Drone Evidence Used

January 28, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

A farmer accused of stealing cattle was arrested and sentenced to several years in prison after officials used evidence that was gathered from a Predator drone, according to reports.

North Dakota farmer Rodney Brossart was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in an armed standoff with police after he allegedly stole cattle from his neighbor in 2011. His family refused to hand him over at gunpoint after officials asked for him amid the allegations he stole cattle; they were armed with a search warrant.

He was released on bail and didn’t appear in court. Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke said he got permission from the U.S. Border Patrol to use a Predator drone to carry out video surveillance on the farm, Fox News reported.

The drone monitored the family for a period of time and photographic evidence was used to ultimately charge them. It’s unclear if the drone got evidence for any cattle theft or how long it was out.

But apparently, the drone got enough evidence to arrest the family on terrorizing charges, which affected two local police officers.

“We put a tactical operational plan together this afternoon and we implemented it and everything went as planned for us, so we’re very pleased that we did end with a peaceful resolution this evening,” Janke told WDAZ-TV.

Brossart was later found not guilty for stealing the cows but he got three years for the standoff with police.

“This case should have never happened,” state District Judge Joel Medd said, reported a local newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald. “Chalk it up to stubbornness, to stupidity, to being at odds with your neighbors or any combination of those. We should never have been here if the cows would have just been returned.”

Thomas, Alex and Jacob–Brossart’s three sons–pleaded guilty on misdemeanor charges of menacing law enforcement. 

According to Forbes, “Records obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, found that CBP Predator drones flew 700 missions between 2010 and 2012 for other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local police departments. CBP Predators were equipped with Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER), developed by the military to detect insurgents in Afghanistan.”