Standing Rock Drone Pilot Myron Dewey Begins Jury Trial For Stalking On July 12, 2017
Dewey is the founder of Digital Smoke Signals
A criminal complaint claims Dewey was “stalking” two private security officers on October 8, 2016 with his drone
The private security officers claim that they “feared for their lives and the lives of their families'”
If convicted Dewey could face up to a year in prison and up to a $3,000 fine
In Standing Rock, the world witnessed the militarized treatment of water protectors who opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline. As the militarization of law enforcement intensified, water protectors were forced to find a way to monitor the progress of DAPL.
Drones became a necessary tool not only to monitor DAPL’s progress but to document violent tactics used by the militarized law enforcement, and private security firms who were in charge of protecting the pipeline.
Myron Dewey, Aaron Sean Turgeon ‘Prolific The Rapper’, and Shiyé Bidzííl, quickly became three of the main faces behind the drones. They also quickly became some of the main targets of law enforcement in the area.
Drone Pilots Arrested
Drones were often shot at with beanbag rounds, causing damage to several drones. Along with damaging drones, law enforcement in the area were arresting drone pilots in hopes of preventing drone footage from continuing to spread across the Web.
Turgeon was recently found not guilty after facing three criminal charges for the use of his drone in Morton County, North Dakota. Turgeon was charged with reckless endangerment, a Class C felony, for allegedly of flying a drone near a Highway Patrol aircraft on Sept. 6. If found guilty, Turgeon could have spent up to seven years in prison.
Now Dewey will begin a jury trial in Bismarck, North Dakota on July 12, for the charge of “Stalking.”
The Criminal Complaint
According to the criminal complaint, on October 8, 2016, Dewey is accused of stalking after he used his DJI Phantom 4 for a Facebook LIVE video titled “DAPL security” on the Digital Smoke Signal Facebook page. In the video, Dewey is said to have shown the location of DAPL security and attempted to show the faces of two private security officers.
Dewey’s actions were said to have “frightened, intimidated, and harassed,” said security officers.
Hours after the video, Dewey was pulled over in a vehicle with two other passengers by Morton County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jon Moll. Moll had been advised earlier that Dewey’s drone had been used in a stalking incident, causing law enforcement to issue a request to seize the drone.
During the stop, Deputy Moll was able to see the drone in the back seat. Deputy Moll then seized Dewey’s drone.
Fear For Their Lives
On October 9, 2016, the two security officers from Leighton Security put together written statements. The following is a paraphrased summary of their statements from the criminal complaint put together by Joe Gress of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
On 10/8/2016, at approximately 1214 hours, two (2) security officers from Leighton Security were on-duty east of Highway 1806 on the Cannonball Ranch. Both officers were sitting in their vehicles. Each of the officers reported hearing a noise above their vehicles and then seeing a drone flying above their vehicles. The drone circled both vehicles and then flew directly in front of each vehicle. The security officers felt the drone was possibly trying to get photographs or videos of the security officers and their license plates. Both security officers stated that they were in fear for their lives and their families’ lives because the drone was possibly live streaming video to social media.
October 14, 2016
Following the written statements from the security officers, Dewey was charged with stalking, which faces up to a year in jail, and a $3,000 fine. Dewey turned himself into the Morton County Police Department on October 14, 2016. At that same time, Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman also faced charges for her journalism.
Aside from drone pilots facing charges, multiple journalists were targeted by Morton County with less than lethal weapons. Erin Schrode was shot by a beanbag round as she was holding a camera and conducting an interview and clearly not acting as a threat to anyone. The entire incident was caught on film.
Months later, following the use of water cannons, beanbag rounds and tear gas on the Backwater Bridge, journalist Jon Ziegler was shot with a beanbag round while streaming causing serious damage to his hand. An officer can actually be heard yelling Ziegler’s name and waiting until he turns around to look before firing.
Dewey is the founder of Digital Smoke Signals, which became one of the most turned to outlets for information during the months long strife in Standing Rock. His arrest gives further evidence of just how desperate both DAPL, and law enforcement, were to silence journalists in the area showing the world the atrocities being committed.