The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the Pennsylvania State Police’s use of a helicopter to clear out a group of tailgaters at the university’s game against Ohio State on Saturday, September 29.
According to reports, the Pennsylvania State Police only resorted to using a helicopter after previous methods and attempts to disperse the crowd was unsuccessful.
Initially, tailgaters ignored commands to disperse from police officers on the ground. Then, after the Pennsylvania State Police Tactical Mounted Unit was deployed, the crowd reportedly became unruly, resulting in the assault of two Pennsylvania State Police horses. Additionally, a trooper was injured, so ground police units pulled back.
Following the crowd’s treatment of the Pennsylvania State Police Tactical Mounted Unit, the Pennsylvania State Police Aviation Unit was called on, who brought in a helicopter.
The police chopper flew low enough to cause a disturbance on the ground — such as blowing over tents and kicked up debris –and then pulled up to a higher altitude.
Pennsylvania State Police said Monday that a trooper suffered a broken wrist while trying to arrest a man who had allegedly struck a state police horse that was part of a horse-mounted team summoned when the party with hundreds of revelers got out of hand.
Agency spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said troopers on the ground were pulled back “in an effort to de-escalate the situation,” after which the helicopter arrived and flew low over the crowd.
“The helicopter made an initial pass at a higher altitude, but (the) loudspeaker could not be … heard,” Tarkowski said. “The second pass was lower to ensure people on the ground could hear the order to disperse. PSP helicopters may fly at an altitude that will best accomplish the mission at hand while keeping safety in mind.”
Additionally, Tarkowski stated that the man who assaulted a horse was taken into custody by university police. It has not been clarified whether or not that man was a student at Penn State.