A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
On March 27 2018, Officer Dan Sells of the Lafayette (Indiana) Police Department was in a hospital conference room for a debriefing, along with two other officers and a dispatcher. Sells and another officer disarmed their Taser stun guns and began shining the Taser’s laser pointer (used for aiming) at the dispatcher.
Sells became distracted for a few minutes. He then picked up the Taser, intending to continue the laser pointer horseplay. However he forgot he had armed the Taser. When he pulled the trigger to turn on the laser pointer, the Taser fired, sending the electric prongs into the dispatcher’s foot.
He received a five-day suspension for unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, misuse of department equipment and misusing a weapon.
On May 30 2018 Sells agreed to a 10-day suspension for apparently unrelated charges (in a separate incident) of unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, and violating evidence-gathering procedures.
From the Journal & Courier
Police said that the victim “is likely to have to undergo surgery to repair damage caused to his back following this incident.”
The attack happened at about 9:20 pm on April 23 2017. Police did not release details until May 4.
From the Dorset Echo
The accident occurred at about 5:30 am on October 25 2016. Miranda Senters, 18, was driving her new car, bought one week prior, when the driver in front of her aimed a green laser beam over his shoulder towards her. Senters told KGW News “I just kept going back and forth a little bit, trying to keep out of the light.” The laser driver then went behind Senters’ car and aimed into the rear-view mirror: “…he’s shining it from the back of me into my eyes and I couldn’t see.”
Senters tried to get away but the other driver weaved in and out of lanes to keep up with her. While trying to avoid the light, Senters swerved to the shoulder and spun out. The other car crashed into her. A third driver hit a barrier when trying to avoid the stopped vehicles.
The laser car, an older Honda Civic, left the scene. In an Instagram post, state police asked the public to help them find the Civic.
State police photo showing Senters’ car with driver side damage, at the scene on Interstate 5.
Senters later told KPTV “He had a little laser and was trying to get it through my front window. I went blind because a green laser light — like my eyes still hurt from that, I can still see it…. I don’t understand how it’s a joke. It could have killed me.”
From KGW and KPTV. Thank you to George Palikaras for bringing this to our attention.
Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is the first well-documented case we’re aware of where a laser pointer aimed at a driver directly caused a crash. There was a fatal crash in 1998 which was partially blamed on a laser pointer, and an indirect reference to a three-car accident in 1999. There have also been a number of near-accidents and other car-related laser incidents which are listed here.
A motorist called 911 to report that a male in the front passenger seat of a silver Honda was shining the laser onto cars and trucks. The caller said the laser made it difficult to see, and almost caused a crash involving an 18-wheel truck and another vehicle. The Honda was traveling northbound on I-75 in Bradley County, east of Chattanooga.
Officers located the car, where Gary Dewayne Couey admitted aiming the laser at other vehicles. He was arrested on a charge of felony reckless endangerment. The driver of the car, 34-year-old Brandi Rapier, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
Gary Dewayne Couey
The July 6 story was about an air ambulance helicopter that was targeted by a laser on July 4. Police were searching for the perpetrator.
From the Simcoe Informer. This item was of interest to LaserPointerSafety.com since we have heard of only a couple of reports where laser light caused a potential driving accident. As of July 6 2015, we have not heard of an actual accident caused by persons aiming laser light at vehicle drivers.
Police executing a search warrant at an Eddyville home knocked on the door and identified themselves. John C. Smith came to the door, and aimed the gun and pointer at them. Police told him several times to drop the gun. He refused and was shot in the abdomen.
He lived but was taken to the intensive care unit at a Paducah hospital.
Police found crystal meth, several guns and a “large amount of cash” at the home.
Ordinance 4880 has an attached “Explanation to Amended Council Bill No. 99-61” which gives some reasons for the city’s restrictions on laser use and possession. One of the “local abuses” cited is the following:
- “Another offense includes a three-car collision, where a young man pointed a laser light into the car ahead of him and startled the driver, causing him to slam on his brakes and cause a pileup.”