East Hawaii News

Hilo Man Convicted in U.S. District Court for Disobeying Park Ranger

February 12, 2016, 1:56 PM HST
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United States Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi. United States District Court image.

United States Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi. United States District Court image.

A Hilo man has been found guilty in United States District Court for violating a lawful order of a United States Park Ranger.

Thirty-six-year-old Travis R. Sanders was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi to pay a $1,000 fine after he was convicted of disobeying a lawful order from a government employee, classified as a Class B misdemeanor, when he was at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on April 25, 2015.

Evidence reported at the trial, held in Hilo, showed that Sanders was flying a drone over a crowd gathered to view Halema’uma’a crater, which is not permitted in a national park.

A park ranger reportedly identified himself as a law enforcement officer and ordered Sanders to bring down the drone. Initially, a U.S. Department of Justice release notes that Sanders refused, but later complied.

Sanders also refused to identify himself to the officer, and when the officer attempted to put him in custody, he fled.

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The ranger used his taser to apprehend Sanders after he refused to stop.

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At the trial, Magistrate Judge Puglisi found that Sanders heard and understood the Ranger’s orders to stop. He also found that the order to stop was lawful, concluding that Sanders willfully disobeyed the order.

Magistrate Judge Puglisi ultimately found that the Ranger’s conduct, including use of the taser, was “entirely justified.”

Sanders was not convicted of two other counts related to the incident because he eventually complied with those orders, landing the drone and identifying himself.

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Along with the $1,000 fine, Sanders is banned from HVNP for one year.

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