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Drone Operator Handcuffed After Close Call With LAPD Chopper

 A black drone with four propellors spinning hovers in mid-air.
File photo:
(risteski goce via Shutterstock))
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LAPD officers weren't too happy when a police chopper had a close call with a drone last night, and ended up detaining its operator and confiscating his equipment.

Around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, an LAPD chopper was being used in a search for a suspect in East Hollywood, near Western Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, when it had to dodge a drone that was flying nearby. Officers managed to track down its operator in a Rite Aid parking lot at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street, and detained the man and confiscated his equipment. A news crew was on hand to record the officers' interaction with the drone operator:

"This is new territory," Officer Nuria Vanegas told the L.A. Times.

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According to KTLA, the drone operator says he had no idea that the police chopper was in the area, but CBS 2 says the man was reportedly flying around to record the police activity. The chopper was flying lower than usual, which is why it may have encountered the drone.

The man was eventually released, but the LAPD is looking into filing possible charges against him for interfering with police work.

In Sacramento, lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow firefighters and first-responders to destroy any drones that get in the way of their work. In recent wildfires, such as the Lake Fire and the North Fire, firefighters had their work interrupted by drones.

The LAPD has its own drones but still hasn't worked out a policy over how to use them. It also has frowned on civilian drone use before, expressing their unhappiness with Tom Zebra when he flew over the Hollywood police station and over an Ezell Ford protest.

The suspect the chopper was searching for was never found.

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