The crew of the helicopter that buzzed protestors in D.C. Monday night was grounded immediately after the incident, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said on Friday.
McCarthy announced that a 15-6 investigation was being conducted, which examines violations of Army regulations or standards, according to multiple news outlets covering the Pentagon.
Army investigators will provide an “interim update” of the probe later on Friday, according to a tweet from Politico’s Lara Seligman.
The D.C National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopter – with a red cross marking – that flew low over protestors in Washington made waves not only through the downwash of its rotor blades but in the shock it provoked among those with military and helicopter experience.
The chopper buzzed protestors from the height of around four stories, causing winds strong enough to fell a tree and send debris careening around downtown D.C. city streets.
Military helicopters trying to disperse protesters here in DC pic.twitter.com/md6hYVqE7u
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) June 2, 2020
Experts in the area told TPM that flying so low was likely a “show of force,” used by the military to project power and instill fear in an adversary. But those with experience in the matter were shocked to see the tactic – made more dangerous by using the downwash from the rotor blades to disperse a peaceful crowd – used in the U.S.
The backstory of who, if anyone, ordered the military helicopter to conduct the maneuver remains unclear. The AP reported on Tuesday that President Trump himself ordered the helicopter to be deployed, while the New York Times wrote that it was “directed by the highest echelons of the Washington National Guard.”