Federal Employee Won’t Be Charged In White House Drone Crash

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The federal employee whose drone crashed on the White House lawn in January won’t be charged by prosecutors, but the FAA will continue to investigate the incident, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Shawn Usman, an employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, was flying a borrowed DJI quadcopter in the early hours of Jan. 26 when he lost control of it. The drone headed westward and climbed to about 100 feet, Usman told federal prosecutors. He said he knew the drone’s battery wasn’t going to last much longer and it would crash, so he went to bed, according to the AP report. When he heard the news that it had crashed on the White House lawn, he contacted the Secret Service.

Usman’s case is now before the FAA, which has prohibited personal drones from flying in the Washington area. Jim Garland, Usman’s lawyer, said Usman has been cooperating throughout the investigations. “This entire incident, while unfortunate and understandably alarming, was totally inadvertent and completely unintentional,” Garland told the AP in a statement. “Mr. Usman wishes to express his sincere apologies to all those affected — especially to the president and his family, as well as to those responsible for ensuring their safety.” After the incident, DJI issued a firmware update for its drones so they cannot fly in the prohibited zone around Washington, D.C., along with the airspace around many major airports. Meanwhile, an unnamed official told The AP that the Secret Service’s recent announcement it will be conducting drone tests around Washington involves flying them between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and testing technology designed to interrupt the signals that control them.