Los Angeles Times

LAPD arrests 7 over laser pointers

Incidents in July were related to strikes on police helicopter­s, mostly during street takeovers, officials say.

- By Melissa Hernandez

At least seven people were arrested in July for allegedly pointing lasers at police helicopter­s, mostly during illegal street takeovers, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

“The laser strikes present a serious risk of injury to the pilots and crew of the aircraft,” the department said in a 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.

Only one of the seven people was identified: Xavier Randall, 21, who was arrested July 2 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 face pending criminal charges from the district attorney’s office, authoritie­s said.

According to the LAPD, there has been “a significan­t increase in the number of arrests” in recent months related to laser beams being pointed at officers and aircraft. Lasers are a common gimmick, often used along with fireworks, to attract attention to illegal street takeovers.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted July 6 about two incidents in which people pointed green lasers at officers responding to street takeovers. Those people were arrested and charged with felony discharge of a laser, Moore said.

Pointing lasers at aircraft seems to be a growing problem nationwide. There were a record 9,723 incidents of laser strikes reported to the Federal Aviation Administra­tion in 2021. So far this year, there have been 4,349 incidents 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 a misdemeano­r or a felony, with charges of one to three years in jail.

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