According to federal law in the United States, it is illegal to point a laser at aircraft or into its flight path. Lasers can temporarily or even permanently blind pilots and cause a crash. Title 13 of the Arizona Criminal Code also makes it a crime to point a laser at an aircraft, and those who do so face serious consequences. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Arizona has the fourth highest rates of laser strike incidents in the country with 159 strikes reported so far in 2019.
ABC 15 in Phoenix reported on its website that a Phoenix man is accused of repeatedly pointing a laser pointer at a police helicopter while airborne officers were investigating a burglary in the area.
On Friday, August 16th, Phoenix Police arrested Davonte Jamerson, 27, of Avondale after he allegedly lit up the cockpit of a Phoenix Police Department helicopter with a green laser while it was flying over the neighborhood.
Though Jamerson told local reporters that he was only showing the laser to a neighbor and would never intentionally hurt anyone, police believe otherwise. Investigators say that the laser stayed trained on the helicopter until it was directly over Jamerson’s home.
Officers on the ground were directed to the home where he was arrested for aggravated assault and pointing a laser at a police officer.
Phoenix Police Pilot Scott Hopkins who was flying over Jamerson’s home that night told ABC that such laser strikes are very dangerous by making pilots disoriented and can cause permanent damage to their vision. Unfortunately, he has experienced such incidents himself. “Just me personally as the pilot, at least 20 times,” Hopkins said.