Small Unmanned Aerial System Used During Barricade Incident NR19007ma

January 15, 2019

Los Angeles: The Los
Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Division, Special Weapons
and Tactics Team (SWAT) utilized a small unmanned aerial system
(sUAS) for the first time, during a barricade incident involving a
robbery suspect.

In July of 2018, a pilot program began that would allow the
Department to use these devices with the hopes of de-escalating
dangerous situations while enhancing our commitment to the
preservation of life. The sUAS would be used in limited
circumstances, under strict guidelines that consider community
concerns and privacy interests. For accountability, the device
would be used only by a team of officers with specific training,
and with prior approval from a Command Staff Officer (commander or
above), as well as the Commanding Officer of Counter Terrorism and
Special Operations Bureau.

On December 13th, 2018 around 9:40 p.m., three suspects were
involved in the armed robbery of a convenience store in the 4900
block of Santa Monica Boulevard. During the robbery, two of the
suspects entered the location, one armed with a firearm, and
demanded that the clerk open the register. The suspects took money
from the register and fled in a car where the third suspect was
waiting. Through the course of the investigation, Northeast Area
detectives identified the suspects involved in the Robbery. Two of
the suspects were arrested by detectives, but the third suspect was
not captured. The search for the third suspect continued into
January of this year.

On January 9th of this year, SWAT officers encountered one of those
unique circumstances where officers hoped the use of this tool
would allow officers to take a suspect into custody without force.
Around 5:45 a.m., Metropolitan Division police officers who were in
the area looking for the third suspect, went to an apartment in the
300 block of North Berendo Street. They knocked on the door and a
female came out of the apartment to meet them. She closed and
locked the door behind her.

The officers and detectives at the scene were utilizing
investigative techniques which led them to have a strong belief
that the suspect was still inside the apartment. Because of the
suspect’s refusal to exit and believing the suspect could be armed
with a firearm, SWAT was requested to the location, around 8:30

The stand-off with the suspect lasted approximately nine hours.
During that time, LAPD’s specialized sUAS pilot (SWAT officer),
used the aircraft to find the suspect who was hiding in a
second-floor apartment. During that time, SWAT utilized various
types of communication strategies, tear gas, and ultimately the
sUAS. This was the first time a sUAS was used since the approval of
the pilot program. In this incident, the sUAS was used after the
tear gas was ineffective in flushing out the suspect. The sUAS was
flown outside of the windows of the suspect’s apartment but the
suspect was not seen with the sUAS. After several hours, the
suspect who had been hiding in the attic space of his apartment,
was located and taken into custody by officers, without any further

During the operation of the sUAS, video footage was captured by the
sUAS. The LAPD is making that video footage available to the public
as a commitment to transparency and constitutional policing. The
ability to use a sUAS in certain situations is an important tool
for SWAT, and allows officers to gather critical information that
can mitigate high risk situations.

The LAPD continues to seek methods for keeping its communities and
its officers safe, while enhancing public trust and confidence. If
you are interested in reading the entire policy to learn more about
how the Department deploys sUAS and the restrictions of their use

Video from the sUAS can be seen