A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
The incident happened on November 26 2017. A College Place resident later confessed to using the laser pointer. The 43-year-old woman said she “inadvertently” aimed the laser at the officer. Police said the laser was “Class III.”
The unnamed woman may be charged with unlawful discharge of a laser at a law enforcement officer in the performance of their duty, a Class C felony which has a punishment of up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
The laser pointer
Close-up of the laser pointer label
Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: Visible light travels through the clear cornea — it is not absorbed by corneal tissue. It is essentially impossible for a handheld laser’s visible light to be able to cause corneal damage to a moving target many yards away. While certain green lasers can also emit infrared light, it is extremely unlikely that the IR was strong enough to cause damage under the specified conditions. When corneal damage is seen after an unwanted laser pointer exposure, this is due to the person rubbing their eyes too vigorously. More information on evaluating laser injuries is here.
The officers had been searching at about 11 p.m. for a person who threatened someone with a gun. While the police did not find the person, during the search a laser dot was repeatedly aimed onto one of the officers.
A witness described how the laser “starts at the lower part of his torso and works his way up, as if somebody is zoning or eyeing in their weapon at this officer, and that’s exactly what this officer that saw this laser was thinking. He thinks somebody is pointing a laser at a target location on an officer to engage him and shoot him.”
According to a news report, “[t]he officers took cover and followed the laser more than a block away.” Officers confronted Jeffrey Klopotic at his home; the 45-year-old fought with the officers. They found Klopotic had a laser pointer. He was arrested and charged with resisting an officer, obstructing police, intention of directing a laser pointer at an officer, and disorderly conduct.
Because guns are often equipped with laser sights, police are worried whenever a laser dot appears on or near them. TV station WBAY purchased a $25 laser pointer and tested it side-by-side along with a laser gun sight. A former police captain they consulted could not tell the difference between the pointer’s dot and the gun sight’s dot.
A Green Bay police spokesman said “When you hear that eight officers are shot in nine days, yeah, it’s certainly going to get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up a little more. People have got to be mindful of what they’re doing, and the decision to do such a thing. It could have ended tragically.”
From WBAY; photo from Arrests.org.
UPDATED April 2 2018 - Jeffrey Klopotic contacted LaserPointerSafety.com in late March 2018. He stated that three of the officers who used excessive force during his arrest have resigned (not necessarily due to his particular case), and a fourth officer was recently disciplined for tasing a man three times “as he did to me.”
A February 16 2018 story in the Green Bay Press Gazette describes three officers who resigned in 2017, one “following an excessive-force case” and two “to avoid discipline for having harassed fellow officers in 2016.” In the excessive force case, officers “wrongly interpreted a man’s slow response to commands as ‘actively resisting’ arrest, and found that what officers concluded was an attempt to reach for a gun was actually the man’s attempt to keep his pants from falling down.”
Klopotic stated that he pleaded no contest “under pressure”. He provided documentation showing he had to pay $686 in a fine or court cost. He also said he is waiting for a police department investigation to conclude before filing a lawsuit about his arrest.
The 44-year-old driver stared into the laser several times, as he tried to identify the person holding the laser. He suffered blurred vision in his right eye immediately after the exposure, but waited 6 months before having his first complete eye exam.
The exam showed “spot-like retinal pigment epithelium disturbances temporal to the fovea of the right eye, with no abnormalities in his left eye.” The authors stated that “The subjective complaints and objective ophthalmological findings of this patient were consistent and strongly suggested that the repetitive exposure of the eye to the reflected laser spot 6 months previously had caused subtle but detectable injury to the macula.”
The authors concluded with two “Learning points”:
- “We suggest that no laser pointers of any class are made available to children, since they are unlikely to understand the risks of permanent retinal damage.”
- “For the safety of users and the general public, even low-energy handheld laser pointers should not be sold to children.”
The authors did not identify the location of the incident, but it may be Germany since three of the four authors’ institutions were in Germany. Additional analysis and commentary is below (click the “Read More…” link).
From Thanos S, Böhm MRR, Meyer zu Hörste M, et al. “Retinal damage induced by mirror-reflected light from a laser pointer” BMJ Case Reports. Retrieved online: 2015 Nov 05, doi:10.1136/bcr-2015- 210311.
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Charged with driving without a valid license, and criminal threatening
From WMUR TV
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.