LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office today filed criminal charges against a drone operator for allegedly flying the device into a police helicopter’s orbit over a crime scene in Hollywood.
“Using a drone to interfere with a police investigation places our officers and the public at serious risk,” said Feuer. “My office will hold those who recklessly operate these devices accountable for their actions.”
Martin Sheldon, 57, was charged with two counts of obstructing a peace officer in the lawful performance of his duties. If convicted, Sheldon could face up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Arraignment is scheduled for October 26, 2015 in Department 40.
On August 27, 2015, Sheldon allegedly flew a drone towards an LAPD helicopter as it searched for a suspect in an assault with a deadly weapon incident. As a result of the alleged drone interference, the LAPD helicopter was forced to make an evasive move and break off its search for the suspect on the ground. LAPD officers were able to track the drone back to Sheldon who was allegedly operating it from a nearby parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. Defendant Sheldon was apprehended at the scene and the drone was confiscated.
Video footage from the device allegedly showed the drone fly towards the police helicopter, as well as its spotlight, and numerous police units below.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Supervising City Attorney Benjamin Karabian of Feuer’s Central Operations Branch.