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Hollywood man, 22, arrested on federal charges for slamming a drone into LAPD helicopter


Hollywood man, 22, is arrested for crashing a drone into LAPD helicopter and forcing it to make an emergency landing in the first criminal case of its kind on the US

  • Andrew Hernandez charged in federal court with unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, a misdemeanor carrying up to a year in prison 
  • Hernandez is accused of operating a drone that crashed into LAPD helicopter responding to a burglary in Hollywood on September 18
  • Drone damage the helicopter’s nose, antenna and bottom cowlings, forcing the pilot to make emergency landing 
  • Complaint alleges had the drone struck the main rotor, it could have brought down the helicopter 

By Snejana Farberov For

Published: | Updated:

A Hollywood man has been arrested on federal charges for allegedly operating a drone that crashed into a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter and forced an emergency landing two months ago.

FBI special agents took Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, into custody on Thursday a complaint charging him with one count of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, a statement said.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.  

Andrew Hernandez, 22 (right), has been charged in federal court with unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft after his drone crashed into an LAPD helicopter in September 

The complaint states that police officers responding to a burglary call at a Hollywood pharmacy after midnight on September 18 requested air support. The police helicopter was approaching the pharmacy when the pilot saw the drone and unsuccessfully attempted to evade it. 

The helicopter’s nose, antenna and bottom cowlings were damaged by the unmanned aircraft, forcing the pilot to initiate an emergency landing at Hooper Heliport. 

The complaint alleges that had the drone struck the main rotor, it could have brought down the helicopter.

Officers found parts of the drone on the ground and a parked 2020 Toyota Corolla that had been damaged by the unmanned aircraft as it fell from the sky.

Hernandez, pictured operating his drone with family members, allegedly admitted to launching the unmanned aircraft on September 18 and seeing it ‘smacked’ by the police helicopter, which was then forced to make an emergency landing 

The drone’s camera and memory card led to identification of Hernandez as the operator, the US attorney’s office said.

According to the complaint, during an FBI raid on his home in October, Hernandez admitted to flying the drone after he heard police vehicles and an approaching helicopter, because he wanted ‘to see what was going on.’  

‘As the drone was ascending, Hernandez looked down for a couple seconds at the drone controller, which was attached to his phone,’ the complaint states. ‘As Hernandez looked up again at his drone, he saw the drone being “smacked” by the helicopter, which was hovering.’

The last the man saw of his drone was when it fell out of the sky and landed at a nearby residence 

The federal complaint filed on Wednesday includes photos that purport to show Hernandez operating the drone on multiple occasions in May. 

The case against Hernandez is believed to be the first criminal case in the nation alleging the unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft. 


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