A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

Canada: One year conditional discharge for Winnipeg teen who aimed laser at police helicopter

Akshay Sharma, 19
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Sharma was given a one year conditional discharge sentence, plus 30 hours of community service, on December 21 2015 for aiming a laser pointer at a Winnipeg city police helicopter in June 2015. The aircrew was temporarily distracted and disoriented.

Sharma’s lawyer said the teen “was goofing around to see how high [the laser] could project into the sky”, and did not intend to create a hazard.

US: Five years probation for Calif. teen who took selfie while aiming laser at police helicopter

Christian Palomino, 19
Oakland, California, US


On June 7 2014, Palomino aimed a laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter that had to break off a search to deal with the laser. According to the Contra Costa Times, Palomino was taking a selfie video during the incident: “In the video, Palomino yelled at the helicopter pilot, ‘Look at this laser!’ A woman can be heard in the background saying, ‘Don't do that! You know you could blind ... You('re) going to go to jail if you do that. Don't do that!’”

He was indicted August 28 2014, and later pleaded guilty to the crime.

On December 2 2015 Palomino was sentenced to five years probation, including six months of community confinement in a halfway house, 200 hours of community service, and not owning a laser pointer. He also will be required to educate people about the consequences of aiming laser pointers at aircraft.

US: One year in jail plus three months probation for lasing plane, helicopters

Enrique Felix Gomez, 19
Gardenia, California, US


Gomez pleaded no contest September 14 2015 to aiming a high-powered green laser at an aircraft, and then at Los Angeles County fire and police helicopters on February 14 2015. Gomez, of Gardenia Calif., was sentenced November 2 2015 to one year in jail and three years probation. From MyNewsLA.com

US: $235 fine, 80 hours service for aiming laser at NFL Buffalo Bills player during Detroit Lions game

Marko Beslach, 17
West Bloomfield, Michigan, US


During a National Football League game on October 5 2014, Beslach aimed a laser pointer at Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton and kicker Dan Carpenter. Beslach was trying to distract the Bills players in their game against Beslach’s favored team, the Detroit Lions. The players were not injured and play did not seem to be affected.

Beslach was identified when he boasted about his laser use on Twitter.

On October 9 2014, the Detroit Lions banned Beslach from all future events at Ford Field. The season-ticket holder who accompanied Beslach — perhaps his father — had his tickets pulled for the remainder of the season.

In November 2014, Beslach pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He was fined $235, had to do 80 hours of community service, and was given a one-year suspended sentence. He will have his case reviewed November 23 2015.

US: UPDATED - 30 months in jail for lasing airplane, helicopter

Adam Gardenhire, 19
North Hollywood, California, US

Adam Gardenhire laser

On March 25 2013, Gardenhire was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for aiming a “commercial grade” green laser pointer at an aircraft and a police helicopter on March 29 2012. He could have received five years in prison. The crime has a maximum prison term of up to five years. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended an 18-24 month penalty, but U.S. DIstrict Judge Stephen Wilson said he wanted to send a message that Gardenhire’s behavior was “reckless and very dangerous.”

As of March 25 2013, Gardenhire remains free on bond pending an appeal hearing in April 2013.

UPDATED April 30 2015: A three-judge federal appeals court threw out Gardenhire’s 30-month sentence. They found that although Gardenhire was aware that laser misuse could cause blindness, that information was different from “knowing that a laser beam can be distracting to pilots who are both enclosed in a cockpit and at least 2,640 feet away. Nor did the government submit any evidence of what even an average person would know about the effects of aiming a laser beam at an aircraft.” The appeals court specifically noted that U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said the behavior was “reckless” but that this view was “determined to be erroneous.” They asked for a new sentencing hearing, from a new judge in the federal district of Los Angeles. Details at this LaserPointerSafety.com news item.

UK: 6 months in young offenders institute, 140 hours of community service

Phillip Pearse, 20 and an unnamed male, 16
Newport, South Wales, UK
In 2003, Pearse and a teen pointed laser beams at trains pulling into a station in south Wales. Two drivers had temporary blindness; one was treated for temporary injury to his tear duct. The cost of the disruptions was estimated at £13,000. Pearse and the teen pleaded guilty to two charges of endangering the safety of railway passengers. Pearse was sentenced on June 20 2003 to six months in a young offender's institute. The teen was given 140 hours community punishment.

US: 15 months in prison, 3 years probation

Nathan Ramon Wells, 19
Cathedral City (near Palm Springs), California, US



On June 3 2009, Wells aimed a green laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter. In July 2010, he pleaded guilty to the felony of willfully interfering with an operator of an aircraft. Wells was sentenced October 25 2010. The assistant U.S. attorney said "This was a very serious crime that deserved prison time."

US: 18 months in prison

Lenny Tavarez, 19
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

In October 2008, Tavarez aimed a laser at a Philadelphia police helicopter. The pilot was temporarily blinded, felt a sudden intense pain in his eye, and “lost control”; his co-pilot took over. Tavarez was sentenced May 13 2011.

UK: 3 months in prison

David Taylor, 18
Newcastle, UK

On March 12 2011, Taylor aimed a green laser pen multiple times at a Northumbria Police helicopter. The judge said "This sort of behaviour is not a game or prank, it is extremely serious …. they are committing a criminal offence." Taylor was sentenced in July 2011 for recklessly acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft.

UK: 6 months in prison

Islam Ali, 19
North Kensington (London), UK

On March 6, 2011, Ali lased a police helicopter "to see how far it would go." The judge stated “This was an extremely serious offence which could have ended in several fatalities.” Ali pleaded guilty June 24 to endangering the safety of an aircraft and was sentenced July 28 2011.

UK: 6 months in jail

Wayne Junior French, 19
Birmingham, UK
On September 11 2011, French illuminated a commercial flight. A West Midlands Air Support helicopter was sent to investigate and was also lased by French. He pleaded guilty to lasing the police helicopter and on October 20 2011 was sentenced to six months in jail. French's lawyer said he had learning difficulties and was "immature."