A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Man charged with assault for aiming laser at state trooper who was driving

On April 14 2017, a Michigan State Police trooper driving on his way to a crash had a laser aimed at him. The trooper’s partner was able to identify a male suspect who was taken into custody.

On April 17 state police announced that Jonathan Edward Rayner was arrested and a laser pointer was retrieved. Rayner had been a passenger in another car on the highway. The 32-year-old man was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and with “assaulting-resisting-obstructing a police officer.” Both assault charges are felonies. The maximum penalty is four years in prison on the dangerous weapon charge, and 20 years in prison for assaulting a police officer.

Jonathan Edward Rayner laser
Jonathan Edward Rayner


The incident happened on eastbound Interstate 94 in Wayne County at about 8 pm. The trooper was taken to a hospital “with vision problems and headache.” Later that day, state police tweeted “His vision has returned and he has been cleared. Other than a serious headache he should be back to work.”

From two tweets by Michigan State Police Metro Detroit, as initially reported in
ClickOnDetroit.com. Announcement of the suspect’s name and the charges from the Detroit News, Fox 2 Detroit and the Morning Sun. Thanks to David Bothner for bringing this to our attention.

US: Fatal Calif. car accident partially blamed on laser pointer

The following text in blue is from an Associated Press report dated Wednesday, December 30 1998:

Laser May Have Caused Calif. Crash

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) - Authorities detained a man accused of weaving in and out of
traffic at nearly 100 mph and shining a laser pointer, leading to a five-car wreck that
killed four teen-agers.

The California Highway Patrol would not say Tuesday night whether Scott Davis, 34, had been arrested. He crashed through a glass window of a San Jose home as authorities arrived to question him, Oakland TV station KTVU reported.

Davis was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, but a hospital spokeswoman would not comment.

Davis is believed to be the driver of a car that was speeding on Highway 101 late Monday. Witnesses said the driver was shining a laser pointer into other cars before the vehicle collided with a pickup, leading to the pileup.

All four occupants of one car - Charo Ursua, 19, Kevin Owens, 16, Janette Alvarado, 15,
and Michael Zaches, 17 - were killed.

Law enforcement officials partially blamed the accident on the laser pointer, made as an aid for business presentations and teachers. The Food and Drug Administration warned a year ago that the pointers could be more damaging to the eyes than staring at the sun.


A separate SFGate article, still available online as of February 2016, stated: “CHP [California Highway Patrol] investigators were trying to find out what role, if any, the laser pointer may have played in the crash. The pointers shine a bright dot and can cause a momentary loss of vision. ‘That's what's been going on with these laser lights with this craze the past six months,’ the CHP's DiSalvo said. ‘A lot of people use them to try to put fear in other people. . . . Some guns have these laser lights.’

US: Tennessee man "nearly causes accident' aiming laser pointer at cars on Interstate

A 34-year-old Chattanooga (TN) man was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer at vehicles on Interstate 75.

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 laser
Gary Dewayne Couey


From WDEF, the Chattanoogan, and the Times Free Press

US: UPDATED - Utah man with laser pointer taped to fake gun is shot by police

A 32-year-old Utah man who brandished a homemade fake gun with a fake laser pointer “sight”, was shot July 10 2014 by a police officer. The man, Timothy James Peterson, survived and was charged with second-degree felony assault against a police officer, and misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon and failure to stop at the command of law enforcement.

On July 7, Peterson made a Facebook post where he threatened to kill police, and referenced being shot by police. Three days later, West Jordan police officer Ian Adams was patrolling a shopping center and saw Peterson, who ran. During the chase, Peterson turned and drew an object that looked like a handgun. Adams shot Peterson twice, once in the legs and once in the buttocks.

The object was found to be a piece of bent metal with a taped-on laser pointer.
Click to read more...

Spain: Woman permanently injured by laser pointer bought in Shanghai

A 37-year-old Spanish woman lost 60% of her vision in one eye after playing with a laser pointer, according to an ophthalmologist from the Barraquer Clinic in Barcelona. She did not realize she had been injured until her vision deteriorated the next day.

The injury to her fovea is permanent. In a machine-translated statement, she said “All fuzzy horrors bothers me the light. I sense what I see on the screen, but I can not really read and, of course, I dare not drive.”

The clinic says this is the first case it has seen of permanent retinal damage by a laser pointer.

The woman’s husband purchased three lasers in a tourist area of Shanghai, for €30 (USD $40). One emitted a red beam, one a blue beam and one a green beam. The spower was said to be between 500 and 6,000 milliwatts (1/2 to 6 watts). There were no user warnings on the laser.

The clinic believes the laser was not aimed directly in the eye, but was probably reflected off an object. While the article and machine-translation are not clear, it is possible that one or more of the lasers used a diffraction grating to create multiple “stars”. The article discusses lasers that “allow decorative figures with the laser on the surface” and then quotes the victim as saying “Ours were beautiful: creating colorful stars in the sky.”

From LaVanguardia.com. Original article in Spanish here; Google machine translation into English here. Thanks to Jose-Maria Silvestre on the LinkedIn Laser Safety Professionals group for bringing this to our attention.

Russia: Teen fatally stabbed for pointing laser at St. Petersburg man

A 17-year-old boarding school student was brutally stabbed to death by Vitaly Torsky, 38, after aiming a laser pointer directly at him. Torsky could receive up to 15 years in prison for the murder. It happened in early July 2013 on Leningrad Street, in the north of St. Petersburg.

From RIA Novosti

US: UPDATED - Calif. woman arrested for pointing laser at fire engine

A woman was arrested for pointing a laser at a fire truck that was responding to a call, and then again as they returned to the fire house on June 30 2012. Irene Marie Levy, 31, of San Jacinto, California was charged with pointing a laser at a moving vehicle. She was also charged with violating her probation on a previous conviction of making fake bomb threats and interfering with emergency radio dispatches in 2010. Bail in the laser incident was set at $25,000.

There was no reason given for Levy’s use of the laser pointer against the driver of the fire truck.

Irene Levy laser
Irene Marie Levy


From KABC and the Press-Enterprise

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2012: Levy was arrested on November 2 2012 for aiming a laser at a police cruiser, then at the sheriff’s department helicopter sent to investigate. More on this story is here.

US: UPDATED - Man showing laser sight to wife shoots, kills her

A man was demonstrating the laser sight on his AK-47 assault rifle to his wife when the gun fired, killing her. The death, apparently accidental, occurred on February 21 2012.

The Flagler County (FL) Sheriff’s Office said that William Merrill, 32, and his wife Stefanie were at their Palm Coast, Florida home in their master bathroom while their 3-year-old daughter was taking a bath. Merrill pointed the AK-47 at his wife to show her the laser’s beam. The two were talking about how bright the beam was when the gun fired once. Stefanie died at the scene.

Pic 2012-02-23 at 10.46.01 PM
William Merrill


On February 23, Merrill was arrested for manslaughter and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He had been convicted in 2007 on grand theft and other charges.

From the Orlando Sentinel

UPDATED October 30 2012 - William Merrill was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The minimum he could have received was 10 years, and the maximum was 30 years.

The “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” charge was dropped when Merrill pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge. (He could have received up to 45 years if given the maximum under both charges.)

During trial the prosecutor said “I don’t believe, and it’s not our position that Mr. Merrill intentionally killed his wife that morning.” But, he said, Merrill’s actions were egregiously reckless and disregarded safety.

When pronouncing sentence, the judge noted that Merrill had a stash of over 20 firearms and he violated the most basic of firearm rules. The judge concluded that it did not matter if it was an accident, Merrill was guilty of killing his wife.

From FlaglerLive.com

US: Tenn. man says laser was really LED on a taser

A 39-year-old Tennessee man was jailed for aggravated assault and for pointing a laser at a police officer in a February 4 2011 incident in Murfreesboro. A couple reported that a man was pointing a gun at them. When police responded and questioned Daniel Timothy Harrison, he pointed a taser with an attached laser at an officer, according to police accounts.

Harrison disputes the charges. Regarding the laser, he said “There wasn’t a laser attached to the taser anywhere. This is one of those tasers that has a little LED flashlight on the end of it, where you can push the button kind of like one of those key-chain LED flashlights.”

Harrison will appear before a judge in May, and is confident that “the truth will come out in the end.”

From DNJ.com

Note about whether tasers include lasers: A quick check of a feature chart at the Taser website shows that all three of their consumer models, C2, X26C and M26C include lasers which help in aiming the device. The C2 also includes one LED light for general illumination while the X26C has two LED lights.
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US: Road rage results from laser aimed into motorist's mirror

From the Carlisle, Pennsyslvania police log:

“No one was injured in a crash in the parking lot of Papa John’s on Hanover Street at 2:27 p.m. Dec. 29 [2011]. Paul B. Matter, 23, of Carlisle told police that he attempted to prevent Derek Pospisil, 30, of Carlisle from leaving the parking lot because Pospisil had been shinning a laser pointer into Matter’s mirrors while they were driving down the road earlier. Pospisil did not stop when Matter blocked his path. No one was charged because the parking lot is private property.”

Via The Sentinel

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
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US: Drunk arrested on Christmas Eve for lasing police car

On Christmas Eve 2011, an apparently intoxicated man repeatedly aimed a green laser pointer at a police officer sitting in his parked patrol car at the Southington (Connecticut) fire department headquarters. The officer initially thought the green light was from a traffic signal changing. He then saw a green dot on the windshield and realized it was from a laser pointer across the street. Backup was called in, and 35-year-old Kevin R. King was identified as the perpetrator.

King said he was “kidding around” while demonstrating the laser to friends. He was given a $75 ticket for shining a laser pointer to harass or alarm. A court date of January 13 was set for Bristol Superior Court.

From MyRecordJournal.com and Southington Patch

US: 90 days for Washington state man who used a blue 1 watt laser on an officer

Daniel P. McBride, 32, of Cosmopolis, Washington, was sentenced on October 24 2011 to 90 days in jail for second-degree unlawful discharge of a blue 1-watt Wicked Lasers Spyder III Arctic laser. The incident happened in January 2011 during a traffic stop in Montesano. McBride had also been charged with assaulting an officer; that charge was dropped in a plea bargain agreement.

As part of the sentence, the judge ordered that McBride continue mental therapy even after he completes his sentence.

Original story from KXRO Newsradio. Remainder of story pieced together from searching “laser” at the Daily World paid website.
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US: Pointing laser at cars leads to chase, tasering

On June 2 2011, an Indiana motorist saw another driver aiming a green laser pointer at road signs and cars. He called police, who were able to locate and stop the vehicle. The driver, Jason David Clark, 32, ran and was tasered after jumping a fence. Inside the car, police found the laser pointer, suspected cocaine, and a pistol with blank cartridges.

Clark was arrested on a previous outstanding warrant, and now faces additional charges of cocaine possession and resisting arrest. It appears that no charges were brought against his laser pointing actions.

From the
Post-Tribune (Gary, Indiana)

US: $5,000 and 30 months probation for aiming at barges, planes, copter

44-year-old Todd Manz pleaded guilty on May 20 2011 to lying to FBI agents about a drunken night of aiming 50 milliwatt handheld lasers at river barges, airplanes and a police helicopter. He was fined $5,000 and received 30 months probation. He could have received up to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Manz and two others, David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34, were arrested July 20 2010 in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. From news reports, it appears the most serious incident involved river barges. U.S. District Court Judge Jon McCalla told Manz “You’re pointing a laser at a tugboat with 40 barges and chemicals on it and you could sink the tow. You could kill people, take out the bridge... [The tugboat captains] thought they were being targeted by someone with a high-powered rifle.”

Erminger and Mauck have not yet been sentenced on charges of crimes of violence against maritime navigation and sabotage of aircraft. Government prosecutors will be recommending diversion, a more mild form of probation.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal

UPDATE: On June 22 2011, Erminger and Mauck were placed on one-year diversion. The criminal charges against them will be erased as long as they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

US: Ohio man harasses radio station with green pointer

A 37-year-old man was charged with inducing panic and aggravated trespassing, after being caught on Feb. 21 2011 aiming a green laser pointer at the windows of radio stations WTAM-AM and WMMS-FM near Cleveland Ohio. He had also aimed at the stations’ windows two weeks earlier but was not caught on that date.

In addition to the laser harassment, the man also had “littered the entrance” to the stations with pornographic photos on Feb. 8

From
Cleveland.com

Germany: Man charged with aiming at cars on highway

On March 2 2011, a 33-year-old man from Marienborn was arrested for aiming a laser pointer at passing cars on the A60 motorway. A patrol car was hit and was able to determine the man’s location. According to a machine translation, “...the man had felt in the anonymity of the skyscrapers seem fully secure. He stated that he wanted to reduce his aggression in this way.” (“...der Mann in der Anonymität der Hochhäuser scheinbar völlig sicher gefühlt. Er gab an, dass er auf diese Weise seine Aggressionen abbauen wollte.”)

He told interrogators that others “have often been blinded in the same way.”

From
Allgemeine Zeitung