The man who was responsible for the recent drone crash at the White House will not be charged, according to a statement by the US Justice Department yesterday. Shawn Usman, who is a federal employee, caused international headlines in January when a DJI Phantom quadcopter he was piloting crashed at the South Lawn of the White House. The incident caused deep concern among security experts, who said the crash had exposed weaknesses in the security detail around the White House. Law enforcement officials have speculated that drones could carry explosives, weapons, cameras and other potentially dangerous equipment near or into the White House and other sensitive areas.
Apparently, Usman had borrowed the drone from a friend and started flying it indoors in the living room of his apartment at around 3am on the day of the incident. He then guided the drone out of his apartment window to fly outside for a while before guiding it back in again. In his second attempt at flying outside, Usman lost control of the drone and it flew away, quickly rising a few hundred feet into the air before heading east. Usman frantically called his friend to report the incident. Both men decided that there was nothing they could do at that time of the day and went to sleep. It was only at 8am the next morning did both realize the gravity of the situation when TV stations began reporting on a quadcopter that had crashed into the White House compound.
Consumer drones have a history of flying away mostly due to pilot error.
Consumer drones such as the DJI Phantom are known to fly away due to technical issues. Most cases of drones flying away are the result of pilot error but can sometimes be caused by equipment failure or poor GPS reception.
Federal prosecutors decided that Usman had not deliberately attempted to fly his drone into the White House compound despite having enough evidence to indict him. Although it is illegal to fly a drone outside in the District of Columbia, laws that were designed to protect the airspace around the White House do not specifically detail unmanned flying vehicles such as drones.