LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has secured a conviction against a drone operator for flying the device into a police helicopter’s flight path over a crime scene in Hollywood.
“Interfering with a police investigation through the careless operation of a drone places our officers and the public at serious risk,” said Feuer. “This conviction sends a strong message that we will hold those who recklessly operate these devices accountable for their actions.”
Martin Sheldon, 57, pled no contest to one count of obstructing a police officer and was sentenced to three years of probation, 30 days of community labor and forfeiture of his $6,000 drone system. As a condition of his probation, Sheldon is prevented from owning or operating any unmanned aerial system, including a remote-controlled airplane, helicopter, or drone for the duration of his probation
On August 27, 2015, Sheldon operated 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 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 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 showed the drone fly towards the police helicopter, as well as its spotlight, and numerous police units below.
Assistant Supervising City Attorney Benjamin Karabian of Feuer’s Central Operations Branch successfully prosecuted the case.