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Manhattan drone pair cuffed for NYPD chopper near miss

'Reckless endangerment' rap for late-night flight

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A pair of Manhattan residents were cuffed in the early hours of yesterday morning after allegedly endangering a NYPD police helicopter with a quadchopper.

According to the New York Daily News, cops claim Remy Castro, 23, and Wilkins Mendoza, 34, were "remotely piloting a DGI [sic] Phantom 2 drone" on a flight over the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge across the Harlem River.

The NYPD helicopter spotted the vehicle flying at around 240m (800ft), and say that at one point the pilot "had to veer off course to avoid being struck by the drone".

The crew pursued the UAV back to its landing site in Inwood, in the north of Manhattan Island, where ground-based operatives arrested the two suspects, and "also recovered a second drone".

The suspects were "arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on a single felony count of Class D reckless endangerment, a charge stemming from the fact the pilot said he felt the drone endangered the NYPD helicopter". Both were released without bail.

While police claim the DJI Phantom 2 soared to 600m (2,000ft), a defence attorney insisted "the model used can only fly at heights of 300 feet".

That's a claim which probably won't stick in court. A recent video from Alabama showed the same model of quadcopter hitting over 1,100m (3,600ft) close to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport - a feat which earned the operator a light ticking-off from the Federal Aviation Authority. ®

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