This story is courtesy of our sister station WTEN in Albany, NY.
KINGSTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – An Ulster County man has been acquitted after he was accused of flying a drone outside a hospital and looking into rooms.
A jury deliberated for about 70 minutes before finding David Beesmer not guilty of Attempted Unlawful Surveillance. Because the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t drafted regulations on personal use of a drone, Beesmer’s case sets a precedent in U.S. history.
Police said Beesmer took video with a drone outside a hospital and pointed his camera at examination rooms. Beesmer admitted he made a huge error in judgment, but he also said the camera couldn’t see through the windows.
For Beesmer, videography isn’t just a job.
“Literally my life is my music videos,” he said. “I truly live for it.”
Beesmer’s videos garnered him the nickname Front Row Dave in the concert scene. But in his spare time, he likes to capture rare views of everyday buildings.
“I captured the Best Buy sign, and said, ‘Oh, that looks cool on camera,’” he explained.
But using a drone landed him in trouble. In July 2014, Beesmer used his drone to shoot the outside of the Mid-Hudson Medical Group facility. He said he knew his drone camera wouldn’t be able to see through the building’s tinted windows.
“I just said, ‘Oh wow, I have to film at least a minute,’” he recalled.
But the New York State Police saw it differently, and Beesmer was arrested. He stood trial on June 18 and June 22.
“To be accused of something so heinous is really the most disheartening thing,” Beesmer said.
He maintained his innocence until six jurors unanimously agreed Monday morning. Beesmer’s case was the first of its kind in U.S. history.
“Basically, drones were on trial today,” Beesmer’s defense attorney Eric Schneider said. “It’s here to stay, and today history was changed.”
The FAA does have some regulations on drone use. The administration says drones can’t be used within five miles of an airport, and they can’t be flown more than 400 ft. high. But there are no rules on personal use, and Beesmer said he wants to use his drone for music videos to get aerial views.
“I’ve been enjoying filming sceneries and mountains, but honestly, I just can’t wait to get in front of a stage,” Beesmer said. “It’s what I want to do.”
Beesmer hopes his case will change how police handle these types of cases. He said local police never reviewed his video before arrested him on charges.
He feels the whole incident could have been avoided.