A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Woodcroft, South Australia
A South Australia Police helicopter checking on COVID compliance during a three-day lockdown was hit seven times by a blue laser on November 20, 2020. There was no injury to the crew but one officer was dazzled temporarily by the beam.
Two frames from the South Australia Police helicopter. In the first frame the laser beam is aimed to the left of the camera. In the second frame the beam is aimed directly at the camera lens. The human eye would have a similar effect, first seeing the beam then being dazzled and flashblinded by the bright direct light.
The perpetrator was found to be Mark Andrew Golka, 49, who lived in the Adelaide suburb of Woodcroft. He was said to have been drinking alcohol and taking prescription pain medication when he aimed the laser. At sentencing, the judge told Golka "…that is no excuse to having committed these offences."
Golka was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended. He signed a two-year good behavior bond, will be supervised for 18 months, and will perform 80 hours of community service.
After the sentencing, his lawyer said Golka was sorry for what he had done.
From ABC News. The page includes a video of the laser illumination, from which the two frames above were taken.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US
Laser strikes occurred seven times between May 31 and June 7 2021 in the summer of 2020 during protests in Milwaukee. An FBI surveillance airplane and a Wisconsin National Guard helicopter were targeted. The FBI crew began wearing anti-laser goggles to protect against bright laser light. A camera on board their aircraft was used to determine the laser's location.
Ground officers then went in and arrested 39-year-old Jeremiah Belen, a resident of Milwaukee.
Belen apologized to the judge during his sentencing. He said he had the laser for astronomy pointing with his two children. Belen said he aimed at the aircraft because he was bored after being laid off during the COVID pandemic.
Prosecutors said they wanted the felony conviction to "send a message" that aiming at aircraft, especially during civil unrest, is dangerous.
Belen could have received up to five years in prison for his action, but was given probation due to no previous criminal history and having found a job since his arrest.
From 715 Newsroom, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via MSN
Evanston, South Australia
In September 2013, Stewart repeatedly aimed a laser pen at a police helicopter.
The pilot had been using night vision goggles. He had "minor discomfort and sensitivity to light" for the next two days.
In court on July 2 2015, Stewart's lawyer said he was inebriated at the time and was playing with the laser which he had purchased online for less than AUS $10. The lawyer called Stewart's actions "inebriated stupidity."
The judge called Stewart's actions "drunken, dumb and dangerous."
Stewart pleaded guilty to prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft and using a prohibited weapon — the laser.
He was sentenced to two years and four months, suspended in favor of a $500, two-year good behavior bond.
From ABC News
Richmond, Virginia, US
On June 4 2020, a green laser beam was aimed at a police aircraft that was monitoring civil unrest at the [Robert E.] Lee Monument, a 21-foot tall statue of the Confederate general sitting on a 40-foot pedestal. The air crew directed officers on the ground. They found and arrested 33-year-old Amanda Robinson.
In November 2020 she pleaded guilty. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the mother of 4, who had no previous criminal record, could have been jailed for up to 6 months. Both her lawyer and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia asked for no jail time, because Robinson did not know that shining a laser at aircraft was hazardous, and because she cooperated with prosecutors.
On March 23 2021 Robinson was sentenced to 12 months probation.
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Missoula, Montana, US
On March 3 2020, a SkyWest flight on decent to the Great Falls, Montana airport was illuminated by a bright green laser that lit up the cockpit.
Sheriff's deputies located a Jeep in which Loven was a passenger. A laser pointer was in a cup holder.
Loven admitted aiming the laser at an aircraft. He said he wanted to "test out the distance of the laser". He also said he did not know it was illegal to aim a laser at an aircraft.
On October 28, 2020, he pleaded guilty to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.
On February 25 2021, Loven was sentenced to three years probation. U.S. federal prosecutors had requested a sentence of 15 to 21 months in prison. Contrary to some news reports, the only punishment was probation.
More on the incident here.
Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong
On January 1 2020, Kwok aimed laser beams at police vehicles and officers at a Hong Kong police station near his home.
The incident did not appear to be connected to protests against police which occurred in Hong Kong during 2019. Kwok Fu-wah was said to have aimed the lasers "out of impulse". The incident interfered with police duties but there were no injuries reported.
He was originally charged with possessing offensive weapons in a public place which is punishable by imprisonment. However, prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to "a diminished charge of similar nature" resulting in a lesser sentence on July 23 2020 of 100 hours of community service. The principal magistrate noted Kwok had a good background and was sorry for his actions.
More on the case and the lasers involved here.
Portland, Oregon, US
In 2016, Bocharnikov, who is a locksmith, was hired to unlock a stolen car. Police told him he could keep a green laser pointer found inside the car.
In July 2017, Bochnarnikov used the laser pointer to aim at trees and then, to aim four times at a Cessna 172 used by the Portland Police Bureau which was coming in for a landing. The pilot and flight officer directed ground officers to Bocharnikov's location.
Bocharnikov told the officers he did not think the laser could reach the aircraft, and he did not see the laser on the aircraft. He told investigating FBI agents that he was sorry and that "it was a stupid thing to do."
In April 2019 he pleaded guilty to one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. He was sentenced July 16 2019 to three years of probation.
From KOIN.com and KXL.com
Lee's Summit, Missouri, US
On January 20 2019 in Kansas City, National Football League quarterback Tom Brady was targeted by a green laser beam during an NFL playoff game between Brady's New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. The beam hit Brady at least three times during the game. It did not seem to be noticed by or to bother Brady, who went on to win the January 20 game as well as the NFL Super Bowl two weeks later.
On February 3 2019, Kansas City Chiefs officials said they had identified the person holding the laser, and had banned him for life from the Chief's stadium.
On April 11 2019, Dwyan Morgan was publicly named as the person who attacked Tom Brady with a laser. He was cited for a misdemeanor, one count of disturbing the peace. This carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Subsequent news stories indicated Morgan had no remorse, that he "still hates the Pats and Tom Brady…." In mid-May 2019 on the syndicated TV show Inside Edition, Morgan and his son appeared to be lighthearted about the incident. He said he did not intend to injure Brady; that he was intoxicated and wanted to distract the quarterback. He said "I shouldn't have done it" but also said he would not apologize to Brady or the Patriots football team.
On July 17 2019 Morgan pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace. He was fined $500. He was not given any jail time.
From a LaserPointerSafety.com story and update.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Barkley was sentenced June 8 2018 to two years probation for aiming a laser pen at a Police Service of Northern Ireland helicopter hovering above a crowd at a football (soccer) match. Barkley had also previously been convicted in 2015 of the same crime, recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft, in addition to a criminal record of nine offenses.
The second offense occurred October 5 2017 during a World Cup qualifier game between Northern Ireland and Germany. The helicopter was monitoring the crowd at Windsor Park football ground when it was illuminated two times by laser light. The pilot could not fly by sight; he had to use instruments. The helicopter identified the laser as coming from a nearby home. Ground officers arrested Barkley while the helicopter retreated to the safety of Belfast City Airport.
At trial, it was noted that Barkley had a low IQ and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He was smoking marijuana in his bedroom at the time of the arrest.
The judge said a jail sentence “would not help society or prevent further offending.”
During his two-year probation, Barkley would receive help with his drug problems. The judge did note that if Barkley violated probation he “will go straight to prison.”
In 2015, Barkley’s laser conviction was dealt with by a youth diversion conference because of his age at the time.
From BBC News, Belfast Telegraph and Newsletter.co.uk
Blackdown Close, East Finchley, London, UK
On March 10 2017, Chung Ching Wan was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years, given a six month curfew under electronic tag, and ordered to pay prosecution costs and £115 victim surcharge. In addition, the laser pen he used plus three other “powerful” laser pens were ordered destroyed.
His punishment came after a January 12 2017 incident where a National Police Air Service helicopter was illuminated by green laser light several times. A crew member momentarily lost vision; the pilot changed the helicopter’s direction to avoid the beam. Ground officers were directed to a location where Chung Ching Wan was arrested. He told officers he was an accountant making £45,000 (USD $60,000) per year and said “It’s really silly what I have done.”
On January 31 2017 he pleaded guilty to recklessly and negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or person in an aircraft.
From the Mirror and Police Oracle
US: 104 hours community service, 3 years probation for Oklahoma City man who aimed laser at police helicopter
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US
On July 29 2017, a commercial airplane landing at Will Rogers World Airport reported being illuminated by green laser light. A police helicopter sent to the area was also illuminated by the laser.
Jones was located and arrested. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.
During sentencing on May 22 2018, Jones said “I’m sorry to my family and anyone I harmed in this. I’ve learned that my actions have repercussions.” According to Jones’ defense lawyer, heroin use was a factor in the laser incident. Jones said he is now sober, has made life changes and the experience has been “eye opening.”
Jones was sentenced to 104 hours of community service, and must pay restitution of about $500 to the Oklahoma City Police Department. He was given three years probation.
Both the prosecutors and defense attorney sought probation for Jones as this was his first offense. Prosecutors said “The circumstances did not suggest that pilots or passengers of the aircraft were in immediate peril.”
Separately, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is seeking a civil penalty of $17,500.
Marana, Arizona, US
Demery was sentenced on November 28 2017 to two years probation and a $2,000 fine. He was also prohibited from possessing a laser pointer, apparently for the duration of the probation.
On April 10 2017, Demery aimed a laser pointer at a Cessna flown by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. He pleaded guilty in September 2017.
At the November 2017 sentencing hearing, Demery apologized to the judge and said he would never aim a laser pointer at a plane again.
During sentencing, the judge said “I’d hate to think some yahoo like you is pointing a laser at my plane.”
From the Arizona Daily Star
Tulsa, Oklahoma, US
Howell was sentenced on July 10 2017 to one year of probation, despite sentencing guidelines recommending an 18-24 month prison sentence.
On December 29 2016, JHowell aimed the laser 11 times at the helicopter. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 7 2017 on one count of aiming the laser. The maximum penalty is up to five years in federal prison and/or up to a $250,000 fine.
Howell pleaded guilty on April 10 2017 to the charge.
While U.S. sentencing guidelines recommended an 18-24 month prison term, the judge sentenced Howell to one year of probation. The judge cited Howell’s age (53), limited criminal history and remorse for his actions. The prosecuting U.S. attorney did not object to the sentence, telling the judge “He’s the perfect candidate. I don’t anticipate ever seeing Mr. Howell again.”
If probation is revoked, Howell could serve up to the maximum sentence of five years.
McClure was sentenced in mid-July 2016 to 240 hours of community service for illegally importing 300 over-powered lasers. One of the lasers was sold for £6 (USD $9) at a school Christmas fair and subsequently caused an eye injury to a seven-year-old boy.
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
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.
Concord, North Carolina, US
On May 6, 2014, Christopher Funk aimed a laser pointer at a helicopter containing a student pilot and instructor. The aircraft was targeted as it practiced landing at the Cape Fear (N.C.) Regional Jetport near Oak Island. The helicopter moved to the far end of the runway for another practice landing but was again targeted. Funk was located by police; he told them he was drunk and did not remember much of the incident.
On May 11 2015, Funk pleaded guilty. He was sentenced in federal court on November 4 2015 to five years probation and 200 hours of community service.
Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, UK
On March 27 2015, a Humberside police helicopter was illuminated by laser light. On August 3 2015, Brown admitted the offense of shining a light so as to distract or dazzle a pilot.
Brown was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge, and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15 and costs of £85 by North Lincolnshire magistrates.
US: $235 fine, 80 hours service for aiming laser at NFL Buffalo Bills player during Detroit Lions game
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.
New Malden, London, UK
Wozniewski was sentenced October 14 2014 for aiming a laser pen at a London Metropolitan Police helicopter. He was fined £300, plus he had to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and court costs of £85 (total £415 or U.S. $666).
On July 19 2014, helicopter “India 99” was trying to locate 10 people walking across rooftops. Wozniewski aimed a laser pen at the aircraft. This caused the search to be called off.
Wozniewski pleaded guilty in Wimbledon Magistrates Court on October 8 2014.
Hubbard, Ohio, US
Vecchiarelli was sentenced on October 2 2014 to probation for five years, has to do 200 hours of community service, must write an apology to his victims, has to pay a $1,000 fine, has an 11 pm curfew, and must stay out of liquor establishments. If he violates his probation, he could go to prison for eight years.
Vecchiarelli was arrested for aiming a laser at a news helicopter that was filming an October 11 2013 football game at Hubbard (Ohio) High School. The cameraman told police the laser light entered his eyes. He was able to direct police to the laser location, about 1 mile southeast of the stadium.
Mandurah, Western Australia
Moore was fined AUS $10,000 (USD $9,093) on September 19 2014, for continually aiming a green laser beam at a police helicopter.
On August 25 2014, he was walking his dog and playing with the laser pointer when he decided to aim it at a helicopter overhead. His lawyer said Moore “didn’t think it would hit or reach the aircraft.” The pilot took evasive action and was “distressed” throughout the incident. When arrested, Moore told police his actions were “stupid” and he was an “idiot.”
He could have been jailed for up to three years, and fined up to $36,000. The sentencing judge said Moore was lucky to not be jailed, given that “the risk of damage was huge.”
Farnworth, Bolton, Greater Manchester, UK
Hunt was sentenced September 10 2014. He was given a community order for 12 months, a supervision order, was fined £20, was ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge, and he had his laser pen and cannabis forfeited.
On May 23 2014, he aimed a laser pen from his bedroom window at a police helicopter. The laser strike caused the helicopter to abandon a search for a missing person, in order to determine Hunt’s location. In August, Hunt pleaded guilty to acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, and to possession of cannabis.
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK
Roe was fined £300, plus ordered to pay £85 in court costs, in late August 2014, after he pleaded guilty to aiming a laser light at a national police helicopter. His laser pen was also seized.
In the July 28 2014 incident, Roe was said to have been attempting to distract the pilot.
Bircotes, Nottinghamshire, UK
Martin was sentenced August 14 2014 to 12 months of community order (probation/supervision) and 120 hours unpaid work, £85 in court costs, and a £60 victim surcharge. On January 28 2014, she aimed a laser pen about three times at a police helicopter flying over Bircotes -- even though her boyfriend told her not to aim at the aircraft. Her lawyer said Martin did not realize the laser’s power, had not read the label, and did not understand the hazard.
Wellington (Palm Beach area), Florida, US
Fischer was sentenced July 29 2014 to two years probation and 50 hours of community service, for the December 30, 2012 lasing of a commercial jet and the sheriff’s helicopter that was sent to investigate. After his sentence, he told LaserPointerSafety that aiming at the aircraft was “the worst mistake of my life. Now I am a convicted felon.” His warning for others was “Don’t think you’re not going to get caught, because if you do it you’re going to get caught.”
Parmelia, Perth, Western Australia
McArthur was sentenced on July 8 2014 to AUS $2500 in fines (USD $2350), $147 in court costs, and had two lasers destroyed. He had earlier pleaded guilty to aiming a green laser multiple times at a police helicopter. Prosecutors wanted a jail sentence, but the judge took into account McArthur’s guilty plea and his minimal record.
Scotland: 240 hours of community service for ADHD man who lased police helicopter, 8 weeks before copter crashed into pub
Jones was sentenced to 240 hours of community service on June 2 2014, for aiming a green laser beam at a Police Scotland helicopter.
The incident occurred on October 1 2013. The helicopter pilot turned the craft away from the beam, to avoid the light. Other crew used infrared cameras to track the perpetrator and direct ground officers to his location. The officers found a laser pen in the possession of Grant Jones, 24, and arrested him.
Jones avoided jail time “because his actions were linked to his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, according to an Edinburgh Evening Times news story.
The same helicopter crashed into a pub in Glasgow on November 29 2013, killing all three on board plus seven persons on the ground. There is no linkage between Jones’ laser illumination and the crash 60 days later, which was caused by both engines flaming out.
Auckland, New Zealand
On May 30 2014, Larsen was sentenced to alcohol treatment, 100 hours of community service, and 12 months probation after being convicted of endangering transport. On December 1 2013, the pilot of the Eagle police helicopter was momentarily blinded and, a day later, had a headache after being exposed to blue light from Larsen’s laser. At sentencing, the judge called Larsen’s actions a “drunken escapade.” Larsen said he regretted his actions: “We all make mistakes, and this was mine to make.”
Carlton, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, UK
On February 18 2014, Mather was fined £300 after admitting to directing or shining a light at a police helicopter, so as to dazzle or distract the pilot. The charge stemmed from a January 26 2014 incident where Mather aimed at the aircraft because “the helicopter annoyed him, as it was always above his house, and wanted it to go away. He said he didn't know how far the laser went.” In addition to the £300 fine, Mather was also ordered to pay £85 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Tucson, Arizona, US
On February 12 2014, Downey was sentenced to two years suspended probation in federal court, for aiming a laser pointer at a Pima County Sheriff’s department airplane on March 5 2013. Downey and another man were also suspected of lasing a commercial airplane prior to the sheriff’s plane.
Luton, Bedfordshire, UK
On May 20 2013, McIvor, a Police Community Service Officer (PCSO) with British Transport Police, aimed a green laser pen at a police helicopter. This dazzled the crew and forced the pilot to take evasive action. McIvor later told officers he had been trying to attract his elderly cat who was on top of his garage. He was convicted in December 2013 of acting in a negligent manner to endanger the safety of an aircraft. He was acquitted of a more serious charge of recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft. On February 4 2014, McIvor was sentenced in Luton Crown Court to two years community service and was ordered to pay £3,500 in costs.
Wales: Suspended 5-month sentence, 200 hours community service, £165 fine for lasing helicopter 10 times
Greenfield, Flintshire, Wales, UK
On September 25 2013, Griffiths repeatedly aimed a green laser at a North Wales Police helicopter that was trying to locate a missing person. He hit the aircraft about 10 times over an eight-minute period. At trial Griffiths admitted a charge of recklessly endangering an aircraft or persons inside. On January 9, 2014 he was given a five-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work, and was fined £165 in costs.
Ryhope, Tyne and Wear, UK
On September 5 2013, Brace was fined £250 (USD $390) for directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot.. On August 17 2013, Brace aimed at a helicopter being flown by a commercial pilot with two Northumbria Police officers on board. He later told police that he wanted to see how far the laser pen could reach, and that he did not realize the effect it would have on the pilot. During sentencing, the judge told Brace "I regret that the offense you are charged with can only be punished with a fine, many people will feel that is inadequate."
Woodvale, Western Australia, Australia
On September 4 2013, Manning was fined AUS $10,000 (USD $9,140) for causing fear with a laser or light. On August 3 2013, a police helicopter was conducting a search in the Perth suburb of Woodvale when it was hit a number of times by a bright green laser light. The pilot had “immediate distress” and took evasive action. Ground officers arrested Manning at his home in Woodvale. He was later found guilty in Joondalup magistrates court.
Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, UK
Rayner and GIlbert were each fined £100 (USD $155), plus they had to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20. They pleaded guilty August 27 2013 to shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot. On May 8 2013, the couple were in bed, aiming a laser pen at a nearby dog, when they then aimed it at a police helicopter searching for a missing 11-year-old boy. The pilot traced the beam back to a house in Hebburn where they were found in a back bedroom. They initially denied having a laser but then officers found it under the mattress. At trial, magistrates were told it was not an imprisonable offense, so the pair could only be fined or discharged. The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner said “This was extremely reckless behavior, which could have had horrific consequences…. This relatively small fine does mean offenders appear to have been let off somewhat lightly…”
Orange, New South Wales, Australia
On May 16 2013, Toohey was fined AUS $400 for possession of a laser pointer in a public place. The pointer had been found in a vehicle during a traffic stop.
St. Louis area, Missouri, US
On April 11 2013, Smith was sentenced to two years of probation, two months of home confinement and 40 hours of community service for the May 18 2012 lasing of a police helicopter.
On April 10 2013, Waistle was given a six-month suspended sentence and 150 hours of unpaid work, for aiming a laser pen at a Cleveland Police helicopter. Leaving the courtroom, Waistle put two fingers up (photo above) which the Daily Star wrote was “defiant”.
Parsippany, New Jersey, US
On December 31 2004, Banach aimed a laser pointer at a police helicopter searching for the source of a laser that illuminated a charter jet two nights earlier. Banach was charged with terrorism under the Patriot Act in a high-profile case attracting media attention worldwide. He faced 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Under a plea bargain, Banach pleaded guilty to shining a laser beam at an airplane (another source says the charge was interfering with the operator of a mass transit vehicle). Charges of lying to the FBI were dropped. On February 15 2008 he was sentenced to two years probation with no fines or other penalties. His lawyer also says the judge restored Banach’s reputation. The New York Times reported that Banach had received threatening letters and had lost two jobs.
Te Iro Bay, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Long was arrested October 13 2007, for aiming a laser at Interisland ferries on September 22 and October 12. He pleaded guilty in June 2008, and was sentenced in May 2009 to 300 hours of community service.
On October 28 2009, supporters of the soccer team Napoli aimed a laser into the eyes of AC Milan's goalkeeper Dida. Napoli was fined €15,000 (about USD $22,000).
On September 1 2010, Hodgkinson and Ramsay were arrested for aiming a laser pen at a police helicopter. They were found guilty of directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot on September 14 2010. They were fined $400 each.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
On August 19 2009, Bautista aimed a laser through a tree; it illuminated a police helicopter 2.5 miles away. One count of behavior that endangers an aircraft was dismissed (the maximum penalty was 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine). Bautista was found guilty on June 23 2010 of projecting a bright light source to create a hazard to aviation safety. The judge said the February 18 2011 sentence was for "general deterrence … to make the public aware of the potential consequences of a laser on aircrafts."
Silver Springs Shores, Marion County, Florida, US
On December 2 2010, Fowler aimed a blue laser pointer at a sheriff's helicopter. He said "I didn't even think the laser pointer could reach that far." Under a plea bargain, on March 10 2011 Fowler admitted a third-degree felony of pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot. He could have received up to five years in prison.
Fostoria, Ohio, US
On July 20 2010, Manz aimed 50 milliwatt handheld lasers at river barges, airplanes and a police helicopter in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. He pleaded guilty on May 20 2011 to lying to FBI agents. Manz could have received up to 30 months in prison.
Also involved were David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34. They were placed on one-year diversion on June 22 2011. The criminal charges against them will be erased if they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year.
Lakeland, Florida, US
On November 21 2010, Hazlitt aimed a green laser pointer at a sheriff's department helicopter because he was "tired of hearing" the helicopter. Hazlitt was sentenced June 2 2011 to five years probation on federal charges of interfering with the operation of a helicopter.
The judge ruled that Hazlitt’s laser pointer was not a “dangerous weapon” under the circumstances of the case. This finding helped reduce the severity of Hazlitt’s sentence; he could have received up to 20 years in prison.
In February 2010, a 21-year-old repeatedly aimed a laser at a police helicopter. He could have received 90 days in jail. Instead, he was convicted of "aviation sabotage" and received a suspended sentence with community service, in June 2011.
Brookfield (Chicago area) Illinois, US
On June 16 2010 (and possibly as early as April 30), Heeringa aimed a green laser at a cargo plane. The pilot videotaped the incident and used Google Maps to tell police the location. Heeringa pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault and battery and was sentenced July 12 2011.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
On January 5 2011, Saulnier aimed a green laser pointer at three aircraft. He was tracked by a police helicopter and arrested. Saulnier pleaded guilty on July 26 2011 to an unknown charge.
Warwick, Rhode Island, US
On September 15 2010, Aquino aimed a green laser at a boat, car, and commercial airliner. Prosecutors asked for two years in prison. He was sentenced September 12 2011. In addition to the above penalties, Aquino must undergo mental health counseling and submit to 72 drug tests each year.
Orlando, Florida, US
On April 13 2010, Anderson was arrested for aiming a green laser at an Orange County (FL) sheriff's helicopter. He pleaded guilty in December 2010, and was sentenced in July 2011 on a federal charge of interfering with the operation of an aircraft.
His case was especially interesting since it paralleled the case of Jason Dennis McGuire who was arrested March 2010 in Orlando for firing a handgun at an Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. McGuire was sentenced in April 2011 to 12.5 years in prison.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
On November 1 2011, Willingham aimed a green laser multiple times at a Virginia Beach police helicopter. During the 20-minute long incident, one of the pilots had black spots in one eye and could not see his instruments. On May 18 2012, Willingham was sentenced in federal court to five years probation and a $5,000 fine.
On August 16 2010, McConnell aimed a laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter. The crew broke off their mission to deal with the laser. They located McConnell and ground crews arrested him. On June 18 2012, McConnell was sentenced to two months of house arrest, four months with a 10 pm to 5 am curfew, six months of probation, 25 hours of community service, and counseling. In addition, he is not permitted to possess a laser pointer.
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK
In August 2012, Shackleton was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community service, and was ordered to pay £85 in court costs, for shining a laser at South Yorkshire’s police helicopter. Neil Shackleton aimed the laser from his bedroom window to the helicopter as it flew two miles away. On-board cameras helped determine the laser’s location, and ground units arrested Shackleton.
Port Kennedy, Perth, Western Australia
On October 25 2012, Giguere and Trauttmansdorff were each fined AUS $10,000 for lasing a police helicopter on July 20 2012. In addition, the conviction jeopardizes the ability of Giguere, a Canadian citizen, to stay in Australia on a partner provisional visa. Guigere (pictured above demonstrating how she aimed the laser) said in an interview that the fine would adversely affect her plans to start a business and buy land for a home.