Man sentenced for drone incident at 2022 Bengals-Raiders Wildcard game

The incident led the NFL to change its drone policy.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 4:48 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - A Springfield Township man was sentenced on Monday for flying a drone over a Cincinnati Bengals Wildcard playoff game at PayCor Stadium in 2022, according to a report by our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The incident led to an NFL policy change. Teams will now stop a game and clear the field if a similar incident happens again, officials said during the man’s sentencing in federal district court in Cincinnati.

The incident, which happened on Jan. 15, 2022, during a playoff game between the Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders, was one of the first of its kind in the U.S., Judge Matthew McFarland said in court Monday.

The drone, which had not been authorized, hovered over players and parts of the crowd during the game, according to court documents.

“This is a new and emerging safety issue that (the NFL is) taking seriously,” McFarland told 25-year-old Dailon Dabney, who pleaded guilty in March to a charge related to flying the drone.

An NFL security official was in the courtroom for the hearing.

McFarland sentenced Dabney to one year of probation and ordered him to complete 40 hours of unpaid community service. Dabney already has forfeited the drone, a DJI Mavic Air 2, which can cost more than $1,000.

Dabney, who currently does not have a full-time job or a valid driver’s license, said in court that he posted video taken from the drone “trying to get more content” for his YouTube page. He did that, he said, to increase the number of subscribers to the page, to help him earn money.

He also said he earns money from shooting videos.

Dabney was one of two men charged last year in federal court with drone-related crimes involving local sports stadiums. Travis Lenhoff, who flew a drone over Great American Ballpark on Opening Day in 2022, also pleaded guilty in March, and last month was sentenced to one year of probation.

Both men pleaded guilty to violating a temporary flight restriction, a misdemeanor.

It is illegal to fly drones over stadiums that are designated as temporary flight restriction zones during sporting events. In both Dabney’s and Lenhoff’s cases, no unauthorized drones were allowed to fly within that zone from one hour before to one hour after the games.

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