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.
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.