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Genesee County Parks sued over arrest of drone operator

Drone MGN.jpg
A lawsuit has been filed against Genesee County Parks for not allowing the use of drones on their premises. (Photo: MGN)

FLINT, Mich. – A lawsuit has been filed against Genesee County Parks for not allowing the use of drones on their premises.

The suit was filed by the Michigan Coalition of Drone Operators, Inc. on July 23 with the 7th Circuit Court.

According to the suit, a member of the group identified as Robert Harrison was operating a drone over Crossroads Village on the afternoon of December 8 when he was approached by a Genesee County Park Ranger and told to stop flying his drone.

The suit then says Harrison was arrested by the park ranger and subsequently cited with a misdemeanor for violating park rules regarding the flight of ‘balloons, airplanes and parachutes’.

Specifically, the rule states that operating such craft needs to be approved in writing beforehand.

Harrison and the coalition’s suit says the rules don’t specifically address the operation of drones.

Following his arrest, Harrison’s drone and other personal items were seized.

The charges were dropped by the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office and his property was returned almost a month later.

Parks rules were amended shortly after the incident in December to include drones in the ban of aerial craft over park property.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton is listed as corporation counsel for the county and is representing the parks commission in the suit.

In response to the lawsuit, Leyton's office said "Genesee County will file an answer to the drone lawsuit and vigorously defend the action."

The case will go in front of Judge Farah in 7th Circuit Court in August.