Weapons-drone student fights expulsion

Drone flamethrowerImage copyright
Austin Haughwout

Image caption

Austin Haughwout has been ordered to hand information to the authorities over his videos

A teenager who posted videos of drones firing a gun and a flamethrower is suing his university after he was expelled, the AP news agency reports.

Austin Haughwout claims he was kicked out of Central Connecticut state university over the footage.

The institution says he was expelled over threats to shoot people there. Mr Haughwout argued he was only joking.

Last month, Mr Haughwout and his father were ordered to give information about the drones videos to the authorities.

Burning turkey

Two separate videos showed drones rigged up to carry to the weapons hovering low in woodland in Connecticut, in the north-east United States.

The first, posted in July 2015, showed a handgun firing rounds of ammunition.

The second, which appeared in December that year, featured a flamethrower attached to a drone burning a turkey on a spit.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) opened an investigation into whether or not Mr Haughwout had broken any laws, though local police said they did not believe he had.

Ruling last month, a judge said that he and his father, Bret, must hand documents over to the FAA, relating to the purchase of the gun, the drone and any money made from having posted the videos on YouTube, among other information.

Mr Haughwout, 19, blamed his expulsion on the notoriety that followed the posting of the drone videos and is taking legal action in the New Britain superior court in a bid to be allowed to return, AP reports.

It says Central Connecticut state officials denied that claim and instead pointed to the alleged threats.

But a lawyer for Mr Haughwout said that what some may have interpreted as threats, were actually jokes, which are protected by the right to free speech.

Beach

Mr Haughwout has also been in the news over two other incidents.

In June this year, local police said they had charged him with enticing a minor with a computer, attempted sexual assault and possession of images of child abuse after officers said they had found images of child abuse on his mobile phone, AP reports.

It says Mr Haughwout’s lawyer reportedly called that arrest warrant “overly broad” and suggested that Clinton police had it in for his client because of the drone videos.

Last year, Mr Haughwout was also charged with assaulting police officers. That case continues.

And, in 2014, before the posting of the weaponised drone videos, a woman was charged with assaulting Mr Haughwout because she was upset that he had been using a drone to record video above a beach. Mr Haughwout posted footage of that confrontation on YouTube.



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