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Man faces criminal charges for flying drone near police helicopter

September 22, 2015, 8:20 PM UTC
An illustration shows a drone flying at La Defense in Paris on February 27, 2015. One of three Al-Jazeera journalists arrested for flying a drone in Paris' Bois de Boulogne park on the western edge of the French capital, for the purposes of a television report, will appear in court next week after pleading guilty, a judicial source said on February 26, 2015. Flying drones over the capital is illegal under French law. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Dominique Faget — AFP/Getty Images

The next time you take your drone out for a spin, stay clear of police helicopters.

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said on Tuesday that it filed criminal charges against a 57 year-old man who allegedly flew a drone too close to a police chopper during an investigation on August 27.

At the time, officers were looking for a suspect in Hollywood, and called for a helicopter to help with the search, the Los Angeles Times reported. When the drone entered the patrol area, the helicopter had to alter its flight path and stop the search, the Los Angeles city attorney said.

The Los Angeles Police Department traced the drone to Martin Sheldon, who they said was piloting the device from a nearby parking lot.

“Using a drone to interfere with a police investigation places our officers and the public at serious risk,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement. “My office will hold those who recklessly operate these devices accountable for their actions.”

Sheldon faces two counts of obstructing a peace officer, and if convicted, could spend up to one year in jail.

The news is the latest example of consumer drones causing a nuisance to public safety officials. Earlier this summer, firefighters briefly grounded an aircraft fighting a Southern California wildfire after five drones reportedly flew nearby.

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