Crime & Courts

Man accused of purposely flying drone near CMPD helicopter

Christopher Baucom
Christopher Baucom Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested a Concord man they accused of purposely flying a drone near a CMPD helicopter as it tracked a suspect early Thursday.

The helicopter pilot had to “immediately and abruptly” alter the helicopter’s flight path to avoid a midair collision with the drone, police said Friday.

The helicopter encountered the drone as the helicopter flew above Central Avenue and Sharon Amity Road in east Charlotte about 12:40 a.m.

The helicopter pilot was alerted by officers on the ground that someone had launched the drone around the same altitude and flight path as the helicopter.

Officers on the ground immediately asked the man flying the drone to land it, but he refused at first, police said.

After speaking further with police, the man agreed to land the drone.

Police arrested and charged Christopher Baucom, 26, with interference with manned aircraft by unmanned aircraft system and resisting a public officer. He was freed on $1,000 bail.

The drone was large enough that it must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, police said.

The FAA prohibits the flight of drones at night, “in any environment or at any altitude,” CMPD said in a statement.

The FAA also requires operators of unmanned aircraft systems to produce their aircraft registration and government identification when asked by a law enforcement officer. Police said Baucom refused to provide officers with a registration or identification and told officers he didn’t need to comply with their requests to do so.

Police said Baucom had a scanner on to listen to police radio traffic.

Baucom told police he drove to the scene solely to fly his drone at 1,000 feet and take video footage of the police helicopter as it worked the call, according to CMPD.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak