In what may be the first mishap of its kind for the NYPD, a small private drone fell from the sky Tuesday and struck a police officer who was on duty at the Brooklyn funeral of a prominent rabbi, officials said.
“The drone went out of gas, or whatever it is, and landed on one of the officer’s heads,” said NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison during the monthly police crime briefing. Harrison described the officer’s injuries as minor.
The funeral in Borough Park was for Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal, 95, who died Monday. The plummeting drone wasn’t the only incident that ended with an injured cop at the funeral.
A car in the funeral procession struck a community affairs officer near 54th Street, possibly breaking his ankle, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.
Portugal was being taken to Rockland County for burial, past thousands of mourners on Brooklyn streets, when the car hit the officer, according to police.
The injured officer was taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said. That accident also occurred in the area of 54th Street, Harrison said.
Harrison said investigators were evaluating the drone case for possible charges against the operator of the device.
The NYPD has used drones for law enforcement purposes in recent years, including crime scene surveys and surveillance. But the department has tried to control drone use by private citizens over public streets and parks.
As drones can be exploited by terrorists, NYPD counterintelligence officials have been giving extra attention to parades and other large crowd events that could be the targets of drone attacks. The NYPD has said in the past it has special counter-drone technology available to control unauthorized drones and, if necessary, bring them down.