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Police Officers Injured By Drone, Hearse As Thousands Flood Brooklyn Streets For Rabbi's Funeral

Dashed Arrow Courtesy of KolHaolam

A swath of South Brooklyn was effectively shut down earlier today, as tens of thousands of mourners packed the streets for the funeral of the longtime leader of the Skulen Hasidic sect, Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal. Like Borough Park processions past, this one was not without its share of chaos: two police officers assigned to the event were apparently injured in separate incidents involving a hearse collision and a rogue drone.

According to an NYPD spokesperson, the driver of a funeral vehicle — reportedly the hearse carrying Portugal's body — ran over an on-duty police officer's foot at 58th Street and 14th Avenue just before 2 p.m. The officer was transported to Lutheran hospital with minor injuries.

Meanwhile, four blocks away, a drone flying overhead lost power and struck a different officer in the face, the spokesperson said. The officer was transported to Maimonides hospital with a minor injury, while the drone's operator was taken into custody. Charges are pending.

According to Gothamist drone expert Jake Dobkin, most devices do not typically fall out of the sky after losing power, and are instead programmed to descend slowly to their original launch site. Though the NYPD did recently request permission to shoot down unwelcome drones in the sky — which could, conceivably, increase the likelihood of getting hit in the head with a drone.

The funeral in Borough Park concluded earlier this afternoon, with many mourners expected to travel to Rockland County for the burial later today. Portugal died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore last week at the age of 95.

UPDATE 04/03/19: The NYPD has identified the person allegedly responsible for the falling drone as Yehiel Rosenfeld, a 36-year-old man from Monsey, Rockland County. He was charged with felony reckless endangerment, as well as misdemeanor assault and violation of local law. A police source told the Daily News that Rosenfeld "only had the drone for a week."

The officer who was struck by the device suffered minor injuries to her face, according to a police spokesperson. There were no additional updates on the officer whose foot was run over by a hearse.

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