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Federal law enforcement investigators flew a drone inside a gun suspect’s Poughkeepsie apartment last week as they executed a search warrant — a rare use of the surveillance technology by law enforcement, according to court documents.
The futuristic search was detailed in a federal criminal complaint filed on May 6 by FBI task-force agent Nicholas Caparco against suspect Michael Wardlaw-Brown.
According to the complaint, Caparco and other law enforcement officers descended on Brown’s apartment on Carroll street in Poughkeepsie at about 5:10 a.m. on May 5.
Instead of banging on his door, the officers deployed a surveillance drone at the beginning of the search, Caparco wrote in the complaint.
“At the outset of the search, a drone operated by law enforcement entered the Residence. Law enforcement officers announced that the inhabitants should exit the Residence,” the complaint states.
“The video feed from the drone, which was monitored in real time by law enforcement, showed Individual-1 and a woman (“Woman-1”) exit from one room (“Room-1”) and Wardlaw-Brown exit from another room,” it adds.
As the drone entered the apartment, Wardlaw-Brown allegedly chucked a Vulcan V10 9mm pistol out of a window, the complaint states.
He later told investigators that the gun was in his room at the apartment when he moved in, according to the complaint.
Police across New York use drones for a variety of investigations — but flying one into a private residence is “incredibly rare,” said Albert Fox Cahn, a civil liberties and technology oversight advocate.
“This is a deeply disturbing allegation. Flying drones in public air space is invasive enough, but using it inside of a person’s home is completely unconstitutional,” Fox Cahn said.
The FBI declined to comment on the case and the Poughkeepsie Police Department did not immediately respond.
Brown was charged with possessing a firearm while subject to an order of protection and released on $50,000 bond. An attorney for him did not immediately respond.
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