CALIFORNIA—Back in September, a male within Hollywood struck a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter with his drone in the sky. Now Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, has been arrested on federal charges one count of unsafe operation on an unmanned aircraft.
“This case is believed to be the first criminal crime case in the nation alleging the unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft,” states a press release from the LAPD.
Authorities warn drone users of the potential harm of not following safety protocols. The authorities are using this case to demonstrate the potential dangers of flying drones over densely-populated urban areas.
The federal prosecutors stated the defendant was operating his drone recklessly over an active commercial burglary at a local pharmacy. The defendant’s drone flew over the crime scene with multiple ground units responding to the call, before it made contact with the police helicopter. No injuries were reported during the incident.
The helicopter received a damaged nose, antenna, and bottom cowlings, at which caused pilot to make an emergency landing. The drone fell from the sky, hit a car causing it to create property damage.
If the drone hit the helicopter’s key rotor instead of the fuselage the helicopter would have fallen. After the drone fell to floor, authorities were able to obtain the memory card which was used to identify Hernandez.
Hernandez allegedly admitted to operating his drone shortly after hearing police sirens. Prosecutors mentioned how Hernandez wanted to “see what was going on” and when the drone was ascending it got “smacked” by a police helicopter authorities noted.
There are rules and regulations in place for all those that choose to participate in drone activity.
The Federal Aviation Administration created several federal laws to regulate the usage of unmanned aircrafts.
The FAA drone laws in California 2020 state all drones weighing more than 55 pounds must be registered. Recreational users must stay below 400 feet and night flying is strictly prohibited.
This law makes it a misdemeanor to interfere with the activities of first responders during an emergency.
This law prohibits entering the airspace of an individual in order to capture an image or recording of that individual engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity without permission.
The investigation in this matter is being conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the LAPD, with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Canyon News reached out to LAPD Hollywood Division and was notified that the case has been taken over by another agency and was advised to contact the air traffic control unit. Canyon News contacted the LAPD Air Traffic Control Division, and they could not comment at this time.