Trial set for Drexel University student in drone flying case

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- A Drexel University student accused of flying a drone dangerously close to a Philadelphia police helicopter is headed to trial.

Twenty-year-old Joseph Roselli appeared in a Philadelphia courtroom with his parents Thursday as a judge heard details of the charges against him.

Roselli sat quietly as the court heard from one of the pilots who was in the helicopter and one of the detectives who interviewed Roselli after the incident.

The Drexel engineering student was arrested and charged in November.

Police say his drone was at an altitude too high and at times in restricted airspace.

FAA restrictions would also prohibit the drone from flying at night.

EMBED More News Videos

A 20-year-old man was arrested after causing quite a scare with a drone that police say he was operating over protesters in Center City.

Protests had been going on in Center City that evening, and the police helicopter piloted by two police sergeants were tracking crowds of people when the drone appeared.

Pilot Sgt. Ryan Tealford told the court he thought the drone at one point was going to hit the chopper's windscreen.

He said he saw it in the front and on the sides of the helicopter. He radioed in about the presence of the drone and notified news helicopters in the area, including Chopper 6, to use caution.

Our chopper eventually followed the drone back to the roof where Roselli had been standing.

In questioning Tealford Thursday, the prosecutor also tried to establish the potential danger of the drone traveling near the tail of the helicopter.

But the judge shut down that line of questioning, saying there is currently no evidence that the drone was close to the tail.

The court then heard from a detective from the Philadelphia Police Counter Terrorism Unit who interviewed Roselli after he was detained.

The detective said Roselli was cooperative and told him there was video available from the drone.

The judge ordered the case held for trial - a trial the judge said he expected would be "interesting."

Roselli is expected back in court on Jan. 19.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.