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
Motorists impeded by green laser light, Mount Pleasant
Three motorists, including one police officer, were travelling on Mackay Bucasia Road (Mount Pleasant area) when their eye-sight has been impeded by the deliberate shining of a green laser light from a near-by residence situated on the eastern side of the roadway.
The incident involving the police officer occurred at approximately 9:26pm on November 11 as the officer was travelling in a marked police car, travelling in-bound towards Mackay. The officer’s eye-sight was impeded twice by the shining of the green laser light. Police had received two reports of a similar nature from other motorists in the same time frame.
Despite patrols conducted on foot and by vehicle the address where the green laser light was activated from was not identified at the time. Police are conducting further investigations. Any one who may have information linked to these incidents is encouraged to contact the Mackay police station on 0749 683 444 or you can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 any time of the day and provide information anonymously. The police reference number is QP1701988362.
Actions such as these have the ability to temporarily effect the eye-sight of the driver of a vehicle – which can potentially create life endangering circumstances.
The protests marked the 44th anniversary of a 1973 student uprising against the military dictatorship.
Reuters photo from Telesur
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 October 6 2017 incident began when Roberto Callejas, 35, told his family he was waiting for the officers to arrive, and that he had a bomb. While it was later found that Callejas did not have any explosives, he did have two knives and a laser pointer.
When police arrived with a warrant for armed trespassing, Callejas put a knife to his throat. Police tased him. He fell to the ground, then came back up and aimed what police thought was a laser gun sight at them. Officers shot him. Callejas fell again, and again came back up; this time he tried to throw a knife at the police. Officers shot once more and killed him.
According to an Orlando Police spokesperson, Callejas had threatened police before. Police Chief John Mina said “To me it seems he wanted to die at the hands of police.”
Note: This comes on the heels of a similar September 2017 incident where a 31-year-old Bronx man refused to put down a knife and a toy gun with an integral laser pointer. The man was shot and killed after he aimed the toy gun/laser pointer at officers, according to the police account.
From the Orlando Sentinel
The incident happened September 28 2017 in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire.
From the Gazette
Police released four videos from officers’ body-worn cameras, showing how the incident progressed. A detailed look at the laser light seen in videos is below. First though, a summary of the incident.
The fatal incident
Police had been called by Richards’ landlord because Richards had not been seen for a few days. Confronted by two police officers in his Bronx apartment bedroom, Richards stood motionless and silent throughout most of the incident. He had a knife in one hand and the toy gun behind his back.
Body-worn video shows the scene.
Police asked him dozens of times to drop the knife and put his hands up. After about 10 minutes, they noticed the gun.
An officer told Richards “"Drop that gun, dude. Drop that gun. I don't want to shoot you if you've got a fake gun in your hand. You hear me? But I will shoot you if that's a real gun."
Two additional officers then arrived; one pulled out a stun gun. Richards appeared to raise his arm and aim the laser pointer towards the officers. The officer with the stun gun fired. After a few seconds, and a possible second laser “shot” from Richards, a second officer fired nine bullets, a third officer fired seven bullets, and the fourth officer did not fire.
Richards died at the scene.
The imitation pistol with laser pointer lies at the scene; NYPD photo.
From “Court News” in the Macoupin (IL) County Enquirer-Democrat
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
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.
From a “Daily police calls” column in the Moose Jaw Times Herald
Just after 2 a.m., two officers, dressed in full uniform, responded to the 12200 block of Water Elm Lane for a report of concern for a garage door that was left partially open. As they waited outside a home to speak to someone, one officer noticed a red laser pointed directly at them. Not knowing the source or purpose of the light, both officers took cover.
They saw the suspect standing on an apartment balcony nearby, in the 4400 block of Milroy Way. They went to the apartment and identified the suspect, who was cooperative. Officers determined the device was a small laser pointer.
Johnny A. Tela, 24, of Centreville, was issued a summons for pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer (Va State code 18.2-57.01).
From a Fairfax County Police Department news story
Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca told LaserPointerSafety.com that the laser beam went into the officer’s face and eyes. The officer was temporarily blinded. He did not feel discomfort, but did go to an eye doctor for an exam which showed no ill effects.
Ricca said that the situation could have been much worse: “If the laser was aimed at the cop’s chest so the cop could see what was going on, I’m sure he might have shot at the kid. We would have had a real bad incident.”
The laser “gun” used in the incident.
An Internet search of similar “laser pointer guns” turns up a similar lighter costing about $7.00.
From Northport Patch and a September 16 2016 phone interview with Chief Bill Ricca
At about 4:35 am on September 11 2016, city police were called to a tavern where 57-year-old David Roginski was trying to enter — although the tavern was closed. He shouted at officers, flipped a lit cigarette at them, then pointed the laser at an officer while hiding behind a traffic light box.
He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and with directing a laser pointer at a public safety officer. Each charge could result in a jail sentence of up to 180 days. (On September 13, he was separately charged with auto theft, stemming from allegedly stealing a vehicle on September 7. Roginski has had multiple past run-ins with the law, as well.)
From the Star Press and the Courier-Times
On July 9 in Philadelphia, CBSPhilly reported that a person was arrested for aiming a laser at a police helicopter after the protest. WHYY Newsworks said that a man was “briefly detained by officers after he used a powerful flashlight to point at the helicopter overhead. Because no illegal laser-pointers were used, he was sent away with a citation for disorderly conduct….” It is not known if these two reports referred to the same incident.
A Google search as of July 11 did not turn up any additional instances where lasers were used in or around protests.
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.
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.
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.
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Nevarez had purchased the laser earlier in the evening. Riding as a passenger in his girlfriend’s car, he began aiming the laser at oncoming cars, including the officer’s car.
After later told a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he did not know it was illegal to misuse a laser pointer. He said he had been pointing it at a treeline and did not intend it to shine it at anyone’s eyes.
A defense attorney quoted by the newspaper said “If you are going to criminalize the conduct or behavior, then the government needs to explain and make the public aware why their action poses a potential danger.”
From the Daytona Beach News-Journal
The replica gun, emitting a red laser beam, used to harass motorists.
The officer was on patrol in Kittery, a seaside town at the southern tip of Maine, when he saw a red laser beam in his cruiser. He then saw the beam on other vehicles as well.
The officer pulled up behind the car of Seth Christman, and arrested him. Christman was charged with criminal use of a laser pointer under Maine Title 17-A Sec. 1002-A. The Class D misdemeanor prohibits intentionally pointing a laser beam at a police officer or a “reasonable person” for the purpose of intimidating and attempting to harm.
Christman’s next hearing in York District Court is set for March 5 2014.
At 5:00 am, police responded to a call at a house near the university. Lane, 22, got into a verbal dispute with an officer. He said he would shoot an officer and then aimed a laser pointer from a second-story window at the officer, who felt threatened by potential physical harm. The officer called for backup.
Lane was arrested, and the next day was released on $15,000 bond. A hearing on the charges of menacing and inducing panic was set for October 11. Lane, who had not yet played in any UC football games, was also suspended from the team indefinitely.
From WLWT.com and Fox19
Three policemen were among those reporting injuries. Two of the policemen were examined due to acute symptoms.
According to a spokesperson, this is the first time that laser “weapons” have been used in the Street Parade.
Partially as a result, within a few days a Swiss police association called for classification of higher-powered laser pointers as weapons.
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From the Irish Independent and the Guardian
From the Coffs Coast Advocate
From the Dallas Observer. As of April 12 2013, LaserPointerSafety.com has not been able to find any other source for this story, including news articles and the Dallas Police Department website.
From Myrtle Beach Online
A Harbor Police spokesperson told LaserPointerSafety.com “neither officer was injured in the latest incident” and “the laser used in this incident was much less powerful than the one used” in the May 4 2012 lasing, when two San Diego Harbor Police officers were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center after their boat was lased. One officer was said to have had a temporary injury in one eye.
Approximate locations of the lasers (green triangles) and Harbor Police boats (red squares).
Officers Jennifer McMaster and Robert Twardy were patrolling near the Shelter Island Fishing Pier when both illuminated directly in their right eye. Twardy said “I noticed that I had a bright spot, like a residual flash that you kind of get when a camera flashes in your eye.” He suffered a “burning sensation”. Both officers were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center.
Twardy said that McMaster had a more direct hit, was in pain, and complained of blindness. She had possible burns to her retinas, and took time off to recover, according to the Los Angeles Times. She will make a full recovery, according to an NBC San Diego story. [See Update 1, at the bottom of this story after clicking the “Read More” link, for more medical information.]
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The 5-hour confrontation began the evening of March 17 2012. St. Patrick’s Day parties “spilled into the street” in an area near Fanshawe College. The crowd grew to about 1,000 people. A brush fire was started, and a CTV news truck was set on fire. To slow fire crews, some persons threw beer bottles, bricks, wooden planks, tires, rim and other debris. In addition, said London’s police chief, “members of the crowd used laser pointers aimed at our officers’ eyes to try to disrupt our response.” A spectator said that the crowd, made up primarily of students, “wanted to egg on the police.”
A person aims a laser during the London, Ontario riot. From a photo gallery at The Star.
From the Toronto Sun. This is possibly the same laser beam; note glow from fire to the left, behind the officers.
The full extent of the laser misuse is not known. While the police chief indicated there were multiple lasers involved, the National Post said “One rioter attempted to blind the officers with a high-powered green laser.” Media reviewed by LaserPointerSafety.com found a single laser being used in each photo or video. Although some bystanders and police suffered minor injuries from thrown objects during the rioting, there were no reports of laser-caused eye effects or injuries. Eleven persons were arrested at the scene; charges included assaulting police. It is not known if any laser assault charges were brought.
In the video above, green laser light can be seen on a student, beginning at about 1:48. At 1:52, a single beam is shown being waved around at approximate head level. From 1:59 to 2:05, the beam is rapidly scanned towards stationary police officers who are monitoring the crowd. The beam in the video appears to come from the same person or area as shown in the photos above.
Similar riots occurred in the same area of Fleming Drive in 2007 and 2009, blamed on a high concentration of alcohol-fueled Fanshawe students. The 2012 riot is expected to cost London $100,000 in manpower and repair costs.
From CBC News, Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, The Star, and the National Post. Thanks to Mathieu Gauthier for helping bring this to our attention.
UPDATED, April 20 2012: Thirty-eight people are facing a total of 85 charges in the incident, thus far. Brian Nuccitelli, 18, faces three charges including two relating to misuse of a laser pointer: “possessing a weapon dangerous to public peace” and “assaulting a police officer with a weapon”. Police said the pointer was aimed at officers’ faces. They said “one officer was injured and continues to receive medical attention as the result of the laser being directed at his eyes.” In addition to Nuccitelli, police are also looking for another person who aimed a laser at officers. From lfpress.com
Patrolman Jason Blustein was driving to investigate a burglar alarm when the beam went into his left eye and he “briefly lost vision.” Blustein continued to the alarm site where he found it was a false alarm. He then went to the home where the beam had been aimed from a second-floor window. He spoke with a woman who called her son downstairs. A laser pointer was confiscated and the boy was arrested. Police say “the juvenile was upset and said he didn’t mean it.”
From the Montville NJ Patch
Two separate lasers are being used, possibly held by the same person. One beam is aimed at the row of riot police at lower left, the other’s target is out of the camera frame. A more detailed version can be seen at the Toledo Blade; click on the small photo to see it larger.
The Reuters story described burning buildings, smoke plumes, tear gas, hurled stones, petrol bombs and stun grenades. Fourteen protesters and eight policemen were injured, and more than 50 protesters were treated for breathing problems due to tear gas. The story did not mention laser pointers, so it is unknown the extent of their use, what effect they may have had on the situation, and whether any persons were injured or sought treatment.
A photo from the Associated Press was published February 20, showing green laser light directly in the eyes of a riot policeman. The accompanying AP story briefly discussed demonstrations, and did not mention laser pointer use.
Reuters story as published in the Otago Daily Times; AP story as published in the Toledo Blade. Previous LaserPointerSafety.com news items about laser use during riots, including protests in Greece, are listed here.
Bond was set at $240. He will appear in court on March 1.
From the Canton Daily Ledger
On May 10 2011, police were called to a barn in New Sharon. They found two intoxicated men were firing shots for about an hour. One man came out and was arrested. The gunshots continued. At one point, a laser pointer was aimed at police and at a cruiser. After Rollins exited the barn and was arrested, police found a 30-30 rifle with an attached laser scope.
From the Sun Journal
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.”
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.
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
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.
The officer had been speaking at Union High School in Union, S.C. on the topic of negative classroom behavior.
From WYFF4.com and GoUpstate.com
The case has been referred to the city prosecutor to see if charges will be brought.
From the Daily Courier
He was released without charge pending further inquiries.
From a NSW Police Force press release
A view of the crowd (AP via Yahoo News)
Laser pointers were aimed at the police (DPA via Spiegel)
Green and red pointers were also aimed at the Parliament building, where the dots from red pointers spelled the Greek word for “thieves.” (DPA via Spiegel)
The accompanying story is primarily about a crackdown on curfew violators. Only the photo and its caption mentions laser pointer violations. The full-sized photo can be seen at the Virginian-Pilot website.
From Pilot Online.com. More information on gun-shaped laser pointers and other incidents involving gun/pointers is here.
Guy Bassett aimed the laser out of his trailer at the Gilroy Garlic USA RV Park. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, and with pointing a laser at an officer. He was also arrested on an unrelated misdemeanor charge of battery.
From the Gilroy Patch and KRON-TV
A full-size version of this photo is available at the Daily Mail link below.
From the Daily Mail
Strom was charged with two counts of second-degree assault and one count of unlawful use of a weapon. He pled guilty to one second-degree assault count, as part of a plea bargain reducing his sentence from the minimum six years, to three years.
Howard testified that during the incident he feared for his life since lasers are often used on weapons. He “pulled his duty weapon and prepared to return fire.”
From OregonLive.com. Thanks to Daniel Hewett of the FDA for bringing this to our attention.
The incident took place in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga late on Friday September 17.
From the New Zealand police report and the New Zealand Herald