Drone seized by police at Los Angeles park

Los Angeles has the following law for parks: "No person shall land, release, take off or fly any balloon, except children toy balloons not inflated with any flammable material, helicopter, parakite, hang glider, aircraft or powered models thereof, except in areas specifically set aside therefor." http://www.laparks.org/venice/pdf/lamc63.pdf A compliant by the US Navy led to the seizure of a drone and citation under this law. It's important to note this operator attracted attention after he flew over a police parking lot and city attorneys advised police no laws were broken. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lapd-civilian-drone-hollywood-lot-20140801-story.html

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • I should write a checklist for Phantom owners, I doubt even if we educate them much would change, especially in the case of this jackass going out looking for trouble. Like Ive said to the FAA, criminals do not follow regulations.

  • @Gary: If I purchased a car, even if my intent was to use it safely, then drove it on a public road without a license, I don't think you'd except the excuse that I didn't understand the law or that it was okay for me not to investigate my rights and responsibilities first. Sure, this Phantom isn't a car... but then it also isn't simply the camera he describes it as. It's an aircraft and these have been around for as long as cars. To claim ignorance of a specific ordinance is reasonable, but to claim that a lack of common sense is reasonable is not acceptable (to me at least).

    The onus must always be on the user to ensure safety and compliance, for if it is not, then we will necessarily find ourselves in a draconian 1984-esqe state where regulations are enacted to protect the populace. Oh wait, we're already there... now why is that?
  • sarcanon: He probably had a false sense of security after LAPD was told by city attorneys there was nothing LAPD could do about Tom flying over the police station. Sadly there were no posted rules. 

  • As much as I respect what Tom Zebra (the aggrieved flyer) does (to a point), he really ought to have known better. If you poke a hornet's nest, don't get surprised when you get stung.

    On the other hand, for those complimenting the cops on their forbearance and professional demeanor, please bear in mind they had a camera pointed at them at all times. Knowing one's actions are subject to independent verification makes people much more conscious of what they're doing. Had their been no camera recording every word of what was being said, things might have turned out differently. I'm not suggesting he would have gotten a beating, just that their way of handling the situation may not have been exactly the same. Which is kind of the whole point behind what Tom Zebra is doing.

    Just sayin'

  • Jonathan, I fully agree with all your points except the legality. It wasn't an airspace issue and it wasn't that there were people around using their cameras, why couldn't he (his just happened to have a flying tripod)? He violated a pretty slam-dunk local ordinance prohibiting use of flying fun things at parks, beaches and the other places specified in the ordinance. In the area I live that's not uncommon and my city prohibits RC models and the like at all city parks. They even post it. I think it was clear from the video this guy was completely unaware of this particular ordinance and caught by surprise. I suspect a lot of LA flyers don't know that's on the books.

    I doubt it was appropriate protocol to confiscate his Phantom and perhaps the cops were just giving back a bit of what they were getting. I did find it curious the cops asked a few times the rather sophisticated question  about where it recorded data so possibly they were going to let the Navy have a look at it. If he was indeed flying over active Navy ships (the USS Iowa being a static museum) without permission, that might be the most breathtakingly stupid thing I've ever heard of. In today's world an unknown UAV flying near a Navy vessel is asking for a rather violent response.

  • I guess the overriding problem is that we here, debating this know quite well the complete inadvisability of this whole flight.

    Unfortunately, there already a whole lot of Phantom owners and a number growing rapidly who do not have a clue as to reasonable, legal and safe operating procedures and expectancies.

    Phantoms are being sold as an easy to use camera accessory to people who have no idea about any of this.

    And no information at all is being provided to them to advise them what is reasonable.

    These things have become a consumer product and sales are growing daily.

    The only way we can change the inevitable negative outcome is to find some way to get out in front of this and get appropriate information into the hands of these naive consumers.

    There will probably still be people who will behave badly on purpose, but right now the main problem is that the majority of them are simply clueless.

    Best Regards,


  • Does this guy go around trying to stir up the police? Yes. He is well known for that.

    Is he an ass? Probably. I was accused of that when I was confronted by the police too (I didn't go looking for it though).

    Was it unwise to fly around where he was flying? Probably.

    Was it illegal? Unclear, but I suspect not. I could be corrected

    This guy goes around trying to challenge the police and flex his rights. That is his thing, love him or hate him. Regardless, I don't think the police had proper authority to confiscate it. Just because they don't like it (or understand it) is not justification in itself.

    I think this community needs to come to grips that this technology is growing and will be everywhere. We need to have these discussions with authorities and the public. We DO need clarification on what is allowed and what isn't and we DO need the educate the public.

  • Cost of the phantom $500, cost to the city thousands....I just would not ever think of flying over any military anything, but if by accident I did and the navy asked me to land I would have just said, sure no problem and put it in my car.  Dang the phantoms sure are stable with that 3 axis gimbal.

  • I'm amazed those officers were so moderate in their behaviour when he refused to provide even his name... and starting to argue after he'd been informed he was going to be arrested... not a good move.

  • I got 9 minutes through before looking at the video timeline realizing there was still 15 minutes to go. What a waste of time for both sides involved.

    I imagine this process should go similar to that of a traffic stop for speeding: Get pulled over. Receive a citation. Then everyone goes on their way and you can argue about it in court..

    Of course this would probably require a license to be carried or maybe just some form of ID?..

This reply was deleted.