The crew of an Army National Guard medical evacuation helicopter that hovered extremely low over protesters in Washington, D.C. on Monday has been grounded pending an investigation, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters on Friday.
“That [investigation] should be coming to a close shortly,” McCarthy said. “I’m going to get an interim update later today.”
The Army immediately grounded the crew as soon as the investigation was launched on Monday, he said.
“Once you initiate a 15-6 into an aircrew – done – they’re grounded,” McCarthy said.
Video of the incident shows the UH-72 Lakota helicopter hovering just above a demonstration. It was not immediately clear whether the helicopter’s crew was trying to use the aircraft’s rotor wash to disperse the protesters.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Wednesday that he ordered McCarthy to investigate what happened shortly after learning that the helicopter belonged to the National Guard.
“It looks unsafe to me, right?” Esper told reporters at a Pentagon news briefing. “But I need to find out. I need to learn more about what's going on.”
The District of Columbia National Guard is now looking into whether any of its aircraft broke procedures of safety regulations on June 1.
The New York Times reports that military aircraft appeared to fly show of force missions over protesters.
It is not immediately known if any of the helicopters in question belonged to law enforcement.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the helicopter crews that flew over Washington, D.C., during Monday’s protests.
“The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!” Trump tweeted.