Noble Helicopter Wave Off Raises Questions Of Legality

Friday, September 2nd 2011, 10:32 pm
By: News 9

Michael Konopasek, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- News 9's coverage of Thursday's wildfire in Noble caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and many of our viewers.

News 9 viewers watched live as a man angrily waved off a Blackhawk helicopter taking water from a pond in Noble. Many viewers are outraged over his reaction, while others asked if the government could legally take the water, even to fight the fire.

News 9 learned today agents no longer believe the man pointed a gun at the helicopter. However, he could still face charges on the state and local levels.

9/2/2011 Related Story: Investigation Continues Into Noble Helicopter Wave Off.

No one News 9 spoke with on Friday says what the man did was correct. But legally speaking, could he have been a victim?

A chorus of voices flooded in Thursday about the man who family members confirm is 30-year-old Jason Dollarhide.

It is unknown if the man in the video owns the property, but some still ask hypothetical questions, such as, what if he needed the water for cattle?

After a short investigation, the FBI is now off the case.

"After gathering some of the facts from [agents], we determined there was no federal violation," said special agent Clay Simmonds of the FBI. "At this time, there's no reason to believe that the individuals fired any shots at the helicopter."

While federal charges are not likely, the man could still be charged with a felony for interfering with a fire fight.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," said Irvin Box, criminal defense attorney and News 9 legal analyst.

Box says a landowner would have a hard time taking the government to court over criminal trespass charges.

"I'm not sure there is anything on the books that says specifically they can do it or they can't do it," said Box, referring to the government's authority or lack of authority to take the water. "I don't think there's any judge anywhere, state or federal, that's going to say this is wrong to do. They may say there might be some minimal damages."

Box says the landowner could technically have a case against the government over the monetary value of untreated pond water.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Noble Police have not said what their next step will be. As of yet, charges have not been filed.

News 9 spoke to Jason Dollarhide's father today. He says his son did not have a gun at the time, just a fishing pole.