The 22-year-old drone pilot who flew his unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into a Los Angeles Police Department chopper faces up to one year in prison for recklessly operating a drone.
Up to one year in prison for drone pilot who crashed UAV into LAPD chopper
Andrew Hernandez from Hollywood has agreed to enter a guilty plea to a class-A misdemeanor charge of unsafe operation of a drone, which according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison.
Herandez was arrested for crashing his drone into the police helicopter during the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Drone Safety Awareness Week.
The drone incident happened in the early morning of September 18 when LAPD police officers responded to a burglary call at a pharmacy in Hollywood. A police helicopter was requested for air support. The Patriot reports that the helicopter pilot saw the drone and tried to evade the unmanned aircraft. However, the drone hit the helicopter and the manned aircraft performed an emergency landing.
The nose, antenna, and bottom cowlings of the helicopter were damaged as a result of the drone incident. Court papers state that “if the drone had struck the helicopter’s main rotor instead of the fuselage, it could have brought the helicopter down.”
Police officers retrieved parts of the crashed drone, which included photos of Herandez the alleged pilot resulting in his arrest. He admitted to flying the drone on September 18, after FBI agents had searched his home. Court papers show that Hernandez said he flew his drone “to see what was going on.”
According to federal prosecutors in LA, this might be the nation’s first case of the unmanned aircraft charge.
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Photo: Andrew Hernandez taking a dronie with what seems to be a DJI drone at his Hollywood residence on May 28, 2020, in a photo released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.