Cops Use Predator Drone to Monitor, Arrest Cow-Stealing "Sovereign Citizens"


Nothing about this story is not on the insane side.

The criminals: The Brossarts, an entire family of North Dakota "sovereign citizens" who, among other things, don't believe in governmental authority.

The crime: They were allegedly stealing cows and chasing law enforcement officers off their property with rifles.

The law enforcement: called in unarmed predator drones to monitor this family from afar in order to determine how and when to move in on them.

The showdown

"For four hours, the Predator circled 10,000 feet above the farm. Parked on a nearby road, Janke and the other officers watched live drone video and thermal images of Alex, Thomas and Jacob Brossart — and their mother, Susan — on a hand-held device with a 4-inch screen.

The glowing green images showed people carrying what appeared to be long rifles moving behind farm equipment and other barriers. The sheriff feared they were preparing an ambush, and he decided to withdraw until daybreak. ...
At 7 a.m. the next day, the Predator launched again and flew back to the farm...
Around 10 a.m., the video showed the three Brossart brothers riding all-terrain vehicles toward a decommissioned Minuteman ballistic missile site at the edge of their property. The sensor operator in Grand Forks switched to thermal mode, and the image indicated the three men were unarmed.

Janke signaled the SWAT team to move in and make the arrests. No shots were fired.

A search of the property turned up four rifles, two shotguns, assorted bows and arrows and a samurai sword, according to court records. Police also found the six missing cows, valued at $6,000."

In their account of this story, the LA Times has a detailed and important backstory on how these drones have been used more and more for law enforcement. It's an important read, another chapter in the saga of the militarization of our police forces.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at December 14, 2011, 6:25am

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