Judge: Park ranger’s use of taser on drone operator was justified
July 22, 2017 | 77° | Check Traffic

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Judge: Park ranger’s use of taser on drone operator was justified

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    Travis Sanders

A federal judge upheld a park ranger’s use of a Taser on a man who tried to run away after being told not to fly his drone in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Following two days of testimony in a non-jury trial in Hilo, the judge found Travis R. Sanders guilty Wednesday of violating a lawful order and fined Sanders $1,000. U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard R. Puglisi also imposed a one-year ban, prohibiting Sanders from entering or being within the boundaries of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

In his verdict, Puglisi said Sanders heard, understood yet disobeyed the park ranger’s lawful order to stop running away and that the ranger’s use of a Taser was entirely justified. According to the ranger’s citation, Sanders fled after the ranger tried to arrest him.

Sanders had been charged with two other counts of violating a lawful order for initially refusing to land his drone, then refusing to identify himself or produce identification. He had also been charged with violating National Park rules for launching and flying a drone in the park.

The government dropped the two park rules violations.

After the second day of testimony, Puglisi found Sanders guilty of violating a lawful order by continuing to run away, but dismissed the other two lawful order violations.

The incident happened Apr. 25 last year outside the park’s Jaggar Museum overlooking Kilauea’s Halemaumau crater.

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