The man whose drone crashed onto the White House grounds earlier this year won’t face charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia said on Wednesday that a Secret Service investigation of the incident found the pilot of the craft — reported to be an employee of a federal intelligence agency who had been drinking — lost control of the flying machine around 3 a.m. on January 26.
The suspect, Shawn Usman, had borrowed the drone from a friend of his, according to the investigation, and was unable to regain control after it dipped below 100 feet.
After the crash, the man went to sleep, assuming that it had landed on the National Mall. He willingly turned himself in to the Secret Service afterwards, upon hearing that it had crashed at the president’s mansion.
“A forensic analysis of the drone determined that it was not operating under the direction of its controller when it crashed at the White House,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
In a statement, Usman’s lawyer James Garland said his client was “pleased and grateful” at the decision not to press charges.
“This entire incident, while unfortunate and understandably alarming, was totally inadvertent and completely unintentional,” Garland said. “Mr. Usman wishes to express his sincere apologies to all those affected — especially to the president and his family, as well as to those responsible for ensuring their safety.”
Despite the decision by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the incident and may impose an action of its own.
The crash caused a stir at the White House when it happened in January and raised new fears about the public’s ability to control the thousands of new recreational and commercial drones expected to fly above the United States in coming years.
In response, the manufacturer of the $1,000, 2-pound Phantom quadcopter instituted new restrictions to prevent the machine from flying around downtown Washington.
— Updated at 2:46 p.m.