The feds arrested Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, a Hollywood man, for recklessly operating a drone that crashed into a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter. The drone damaged the LAPD aircraft and forced the pilot to make an emergency landing. The drone also damaged a vehicle when the the drone fell from the sky after the crash. Hernandez faces a charge of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft.
On September 18, 2020, in the early morning house, LAPD officers responded to a burglary call at a pharmacy in Hollywood. The responding officers requested air support, and an LAPD helicopter flew toward the scene. As the helicopter approached the pharmacy, the pilot saw the drone and tried to evade the unmanned aircraft. Despite the evasive efforts, the drone stuck the helicopter, forcing the pilot to initiate an emergency landing. The drone damaged the helicopter's nose, antenna and bottom cowlings. The drone's camera and SD card, led to the identification of Hernandez as the drone's operator.
Hernandez admitted to flying the drone on September 18 after he heard police vehicles and an approaching helicopter just after midnight. Hernandez just wanted “to see what was going on.” As the drone was ascending, Hernandez saw the drone “smacked” by the hovering police helicopter, and it fell to the ground at a nearby residence.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
As charged, the unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft offense alleged in the complaint is a misdemeanor offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.