7 arrested for pointing lasers at LAPD helicopters
In 2020, L.A. outlawed the possession of laser pointers and laser-style devices during public demonstrations, rallies, protests or picket lines
By Melissa Hernandez
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — At least seven people were arrested this month for allegedly pointing lasers at police helicopters, particularly during illegal street takeovers, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Only one of the seven was identified: Xavier Randall, 21, who was arrested on July 2 for pointing a laser at a police helicopter during a street takeover, according to an LAPD news release. Randall was charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and a second, unspecified charge.
The six other people who were arrested are pending criminal charges from the district attorney’s office, authorities said.
“The laser strikes present a serious risk of injury to the pilots and crew of the aircraft,” according to the department’s statement. “The attack has its own penal code section created for it due to the risk to the general public caused by an incapacitated or blind pilot.”
In November 2020, Los Angeles outlawed the possession of laser pointers and laser-style devices during public demonstrations, rallies, protests or picket lines.
According to LAPD, there has been “a significant increase in the number of arrests” related to the laser beams pointed at police officers and aircraft in recent months. Lasers are a common gimmick at illegal street takeovers, often used along with fireworks, to attract attention to the event.
On July 6, LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted about two incidents in which people pointed green lasers at officers responding to street takeovers. Those people were arrested, Moore said, and charged with felony discharge of a laser.
Pointing lasers at aircraft seems to be a growing problem not just in California but nationwide. According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 9,723 incidents of laser strikes reported to the FAA in 2021 — the highest number of incidents reported ever. As of June 31, there have been 4,349 instances nationwide.
In California, intentionally pointing a laser at someone is a misdemeanor crime that carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail. Intentionally pointing a laser at a police aircraft can be both a misdemeanor or a felony, with charges of one to three years in jail, depending on how the DA’s office chooses to pursue the charges.
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