A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
US: Driver aims laser pointer at motorist, causes own accident
The accident began when Scott Socea, 46, was driving behind a woman on Highway 138 in Phelan, San Bernardino County, California. Socea was allegedly upset that the woman was driving too slow. He passed her, merged in front of her, then stepped on his brakes. The woman flashed her headlights.
According to police, Socea then aimed a laser pointer with green light "directly" into the woman's eyes. The woman was blinded by the light, could not see, and rear-ended Socea's car.
There were no injuries.
Police were able to recover the laser pointer as evidence. Socea was cited for brandishing a weapon.
From KTLA News and Fox 11 News, and an October 8 press release from the Victor Valley Sheriff's Department
Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is one of the very few incidents where laser light aimed at a driver caused, or was a contributing factor, to a vehicular accident. We have documented perhaps two or three since 2000, with a few more additional reports that are unverified.
For more information, see Non-aviation incident news items tagged Car, Driver, Motorist, and Road rage.
Thank you to Greg Makhov for bringing this to our attention.
US: Indiana man used laser pointer to attract, expose self to child
On one occasion, used a laser pointer to gain the girl's attention to his bedroom window. He then pointed laser laser light at his exposed genitals.
According to a story from NWI.com, "Police said they responded to a similar complaint about Crowell from a different address in March 2019. Crowell told police at that time he was unaware others could see in his window."
On February 26 2021, Crowell was jailed and charged with indecent exposure, a misdemeanor.
Singapore: Woman claims laser harassment as a result of accident
In December 2015 Chan Hui Peng, then 42 years old, fell into a manhole maintained by Singapore's National Water Agency, known as "PUB". She landed on her rear. PUB officers took her to a hospital where she was diagnosed with trauma, hip bruises, and a broken ankle. For the next four months she went to a rehabilitation hospital.
Beginning in March 2016 she had mental issues, including headaches, a PTSD diagnosis in March 2017, claims of paranoia in October 2018, a diagnosis of schizophrenia in February 2020, and sometime in 2020 "she said she felt the heat from laser beams while she was on her bed."
Her lawsuit, containing thousands of pages of medical and clinical notes, asks for SGD $5 million (USD $3.76 million).
A lawyer for PUB's insurer said Chan "has made a mountain out of a molehill and has seized the opportunity to capitalize on the injuries she allegedly sustained." He disputed claims for loss of future earnings and future medical expenses.
From the Straits Times
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM
Madame Chen's claim of feeling heat from (almost certainly nonexistent) laser beams is a common symptom of persons claiming laser harassment.
About 10-15 times a year, we receive a call or email from persons saying they are harassed by persons aiming lasers at them. In most cases there appears to be no reasonable external explanation. The feelings of heat, light and/or paranoia must be coming from within the person. Unfortunately, their symptoms, pain and fear are real to the sufferer.
This is discussed at greater length on our page If you are harassed by lasers, in the sections about unknown and mysterious laser sources.
Our conclusion is that Madame Chen is not making up the "heat from laser beam" complaint. She really does feel hot spots — but there is almost certainly no laser involved. Instead, this is one of the symptoms of her mental condition, along with the paranoia that also often accompanies claims of mysterious laser heat and light.
US: LAPD officer has eye injury from laser
Suspect Arrested After Pointing Laser Pointer At Officer
On July 16th, 2020, around 8:40 a.m., a LAPD police officer in full uniform was in the area of 2nd St. and San Pedro when he felt a burning sensation in his eye. The officer believed the burning sensation may have been caused by a laser pointer. He was able to locate the suspect, 45-year-old Douglas Meyer, on a balcony in a nearby building. Additional officers went to the building and took Meyer into custody. Meyer was booked for Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Police Officer, booking #5973501.
The officer began to experience nausea, vomiting, an intense headache, and blurred vision. He has received initial medical treatment, but will require follow up treatment with a specialist due to the seriousness of the sustained injury and symptoms.
UPDATE November 11 2020: An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department said he lost vision in his right eye, suffers migraines and has had trouble balancing for at least two months after having a green laser beam aimed at his eye on July 16 2020.
Officer Kyle Rice was on a call in the Little Tokyo area of downtown Los Angeles when someone unrelated to the call aimed a laser from a fourth-floor balcony of an apartment building. He told NBC Los Angeles he felt his right eye was on fire.
A 45-year-old suspect was arrested and later released from jail. As of September 10 2020, no charges were filed as the L.A. District Attorney's office said it did not have evidence in the case.
Due to his symptoms, Rice cannot drive. He is seeing eye specialists and neurologists, and does not yet know if the injury is permanent.
On September 4 2020 the LAPD police chief sent a memo to officers telling them to "adjust their vision away from the laser", and that laser eye protection would be provided. The memo noted "The use of a laser itself shall not presumptively constitute a threat that justifies an officer's use of deadly force" (emphasis in the original). The memo added that "If confronted with a laser, personnel shall utilize concepts found in Use of Force, Tactics Directive 16, Tactical De-escalation Techniques."
UPDATE May 25 2021: Officer Kyle Rice's vision issues and other effects are likely not directly caused by the July 16 2020 laser illumination, according to a laser eye safety expert who contacted LaserPointerSafety.com. The correspondent said the symptoms were similar to other sufferers that the expert has examined in the past. These sufferers had symptoms after exposure to relatively low-powered laser beams — but no actual laser eye injury was found. The expert believes Rice's symptoms are "psychogenic, [meaning they are] real to the person, but not from the laser." It is not known whether Rice has seen eye specialists or other vision experts who have had direct experience with a variety of actual and claimed laser eye injuries. LaserPointerSafety.com welcomes any additional updates on this case.
From NBC Los Angeles
US: Pointing gunsight laser at man a factor in fatal "stand your ground" shooting
Both men lived in a Fort Myers (Florida) apartment complex, in units identically numbered "102". Ryan Modell, 32, had been heavily drinking on March 19 to celebrate a new job. At about 2:30 am on March 20, Modell — wearing only shorts— knocked on the door of 46-year-old Steve Taylor, in a different unit 102.
Taylor got his 10 mm Glock handgun and answered the door. He told Modell he had the wrong unit, but to Taylor, the intoxicated Modell didn't respond and appeared drugged. Taylor said he pointed the gun at Modell, warning him not to approach, but Modell charged.
Taylor closed the door, injuring Modell's toe. Taylor's wife called police. Taylor went outside and found Modell hosing off his bloody toe. Taylor aimed the gun at Modell and turned on the laser pointer aiming device. That is when Modell sprayed water, made threats and charged.
Mark O'Mara, a lawyer for Modell's father, said Modell had an understandable reaction for a person who thought he was about to be shot. He said "If you put a laser on my chest, there is one of two things I am going to do: duck and run, or kill you."
Taylor says he fired when Modell was within two feet; O'Mara says evidence indicates it was several feet back.
The 2016 case became controversial due to Florida's "stand your ground" law being used. In January 2020, O'Mara asked Florida's governor to appoint a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the shooting, and wants Taylor charged with second-degree murder.
Australia: NSW woman convicted of using a laser pointer in public, plus one other charge
On January 14 2019, Danielle Therese Emery, 49, was aiming a blue laser pointer into the sky. When police investigated, they found a car with a light bar with red and blue LED lights. Emery said she used the bar only to scare friends.
Emery sent the court a "heartfelt letter of admission and regret," and the court accepted that she was "probably not aware of the seriousness of the conduct in question."
Emery was sentenced with a community corrections order of 12 months. The standard conditions for such an order are "the offender must not commit any offence and must appear before the court if called upon during the term of the order." Additional conditions may be applied but were not mentioned in the news story about Emery.
From the Daily Liberal
US: Officer in car said to have burned cornea from "inadvertent" laser pointer incident
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.
UK: Woman sentenced for illegal laser imports that injured boy's eyesight
Lynsey McClure had imported the lasers from a Chinese supplier who said they complied with U.K. regulations limiting laser pens to 1 milliwatt of power. Her brother, who was not charged, sold them in a stall during a school fair in December 2015. The headmaster asked her brother to stop selling the laser, but he continued.
Jonathan Marshall, 7, purchased one of the lasers. It was later found to have an output of 127 milliwatts.
His mother said Jonathan was playing with it at home when the beam went into his eye for “a fraction of a second.” He has a retinal burn which interferes with his vision.
McClure pleaded guilty to nine product safety and consumer protection violations, including selling an unsafe product and failing to disclose the power of the laser.
The case appears to be the first where a person has been prosecuted for an illegal laser sale that led to an injury.
From the Sunday Times (subscription required to read the entire article) and the JC.com
US: UPDATED - Officers in Green Bay targeted by laser during gun search
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.
Germany: Bus driver's eye injured by laser pointer aimed by child
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.
Click to read more...
US: UPDATED - Parent at HS game aims laser at opposing team; charged with disturbing the peace
On February 29, a Division I girls’ hockey playoff game took place in the Boston-area town of Winthrop, Mass. Parents of the Medway-Ashland team told FOX 25 TV news that a Winthrop parent was using a laser pointer “through the game” and especially in the third period. School officials noticed the laser and escorted the parent out.
Winthrop’s athletic director said no players were hit by the laser “as far as he knew.” FOX 25 reported that the pointer did go into the eyes of players, and that a Medway-Ashland goalie reportedly had headaches after the game.
The laser could have affected the score, since Medway-Ashland had been leading early in the third period, but Winthrop came back in the final minutes to win 3-1. M-A parents wanted like the game replayed, and the coach claimed that five or six M-A players said they were distracted by the laser during the game. Winthrop’s athletic director denied that the laser had any effect on the score. The game will be reviewed but the TV news reported that “it is unlikely the outcome will be reversed.”
From FOX 25 News and Wicked Local Medway We have put up a special page here at LaserPointerSafety.com which gives additional facts and informed commentary about this case.
UPDATE, March 2 2012:
- The superintendent of Winthrop schools wants criminal charges filed against the laser-pointing dad. The official has turned a videotape of the game over to police.
- The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association says the game will stand. MIAA issued a letter denying an appeal by Medway-Ashland parents, based on referees saying the game was fair.
- CBS WBZ-TV quoted Medway-Ashland goalie Kathryn Hamer as saying “It’s kind of like when you look at the sun and then you look away you see that spot and you can’t see for a couple of seconds. You shake your head and try to get it out of your system and just keep focusing, but it’s difficult.” Hamer and her father said the laser directly affected her ability to defend against Winthrop’s first goal.
From FOX 25 News and CBS Boston
UPDATE 2, March 3 2012: FOX 25 is reporting that a laser pointer was used in a similar way during in a game one year ago against Winthrop. A former coach of the Wilmington High School girls’ hockey team says the 8th grade goalie complained about the laser pointer being flashed in her eyes. The coach discussed this with Winthrop’s coach, who later told him “the problem was taken care of” so no complaint was filed. It is not known if the parent ejected after the Feb. 29 2012 incident is the same person from the Wilmington game a year ago. From FOX 25 News and 7 News WHDH.
UPDATE 3, March 4 2012: WHDH TV confirmed that the man ejected during the Wilmington game in 2011 was the same person who was ejected during the Medway-Ashland game. From 7 News WHDH.
UPDATE 4, March 7 2012: Joseph Cordes, 42, will be arraigned on a criminal charge of disturbing the peace. He told CBS station WBZ that he “I feel like a complete jerk. It was very stupid, completely immature….” and that he had humiliated his daughter.
Screen capture of Joseph Cordes, from WBZ-TV
The Boston Globe quoted the father of goalie Kathryn Hamer as saying “I’m not sure if disturbing the peace is quite enough, because I think this man had a malicious intent.” Phillip Hamer has not decided whether to file civil charges. He said his daughter had “momentary confusion” from the laser exposure, but is “fine now.” From the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, and CBS Boston WBZ-TV.
US: Man points gun with laser sight in New Hampshire road rage incident
Charged with driving without a valid license, and criminal threatening
From WMUR TV
US: Oregon man aims laser-sighted gun at deputy
US: Philly man, 41, arrested for aiming at police cruiser
US: $5,000 and 30 months probation for aiming at barges, planes, copter
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.