A Hollywood man pleaded guilty Thursday to unsafely operating a drone that hit a Los Angeles police helicopter and forced it to make an emergency landing.

Andrew Hernandez, 22, of Hollywood, entered a plea to a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in federal prison.

In a plea agreement, Hernandez acknowledged that he launched the drone last September out of curiosity as the helicopter flew towards a reported emergency at a pharmacy near his home, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

The pilot tried to evade the drone but it struck and damaged the aircraft.

“If the drone had struck the helicopter’s main rotor instead of the fuselage, it could have brought the helicopter down,” according to court documents.

Hernandez was identified as the drone operator after pieces of it were recovered.

Prosecutors said this is the nation’s first use of the unmanned aircraft federal criminal charge.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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