Judge Clears Pipeline Protester Charged in Drone Incident

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(AP) — A Dakota Access pipeline protester accused of endangering a police plane with his drone in North Dakota last September has been cleared of all charges.

A judge found 32-year-old Aaron Turgeon not guilty of reckless endangerment and physical obstruction of a government function after a one-day bench trial Thursday.

Judge Allan Schmalenberger ruled that the Rapid City, South Dakota, man operated his drone in a “methodical manner,” not in a manner that endangered anyone. Turgeon maintained he was filming the protest.

The incident helped prompt the Federal Aviation Administration to impose a no-fly zone over the protest area.

Protests in southern North Dakota against the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline led to 761 arrests between August and February.

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