A 38-year-old Filipino is the first man ever to be charged for flashing a laser beam at a police helicopter in Edmonton, Canada, an online report said.
The Edmonton Sun reported that Alvin Bautista of Lacombe, Alberta pointed the laser beam to an AIR-1 police chopper last August 19 while it was hovering over 106 Street and Whitemud Drive in Edmonton.
Since the beam was pointed at the helicopter for a very long time, the pilots were able to track the source of the laser – the vehicle carrying Bautista near 34 Avenue and 91 Street.
If convicted, the Filipino could face up to five years in jail or a fine of up to $100,000 under the Federal Aeronautics Act in Canada.
Acting Staff Sgt. Chris Barbar of the flight operations unit was quoted in the report as saying that pointing a laser beam at a police chopper is “no joke."
“I hope it sends the message out that it’s not a game. When we shine our spotlight down it’s to catch bad guys, to serve the community. By shining a laser or a flood light, it not only endangers the crew, but the citizens on the ground," Barbar told the Edmonton Sun.
He added that by the time the beam reaches 1,000 feet up in the air, the projected light would have already covered the entire chopper.
The report said that the Canadian flight crew deals with “distracting, dangerous lights" about a dozen times a year. Lasers can cause permanent eye damage, double vision, or temporary blindness depending on its power, it said.
Barbar said people in their mid-30s to 50s who sit around outside their homes are the ones who usually point lights or lasers at them in case they pass by.
However they haven’t been able to charge any of these violators because they never could trace a “steady beam" to prove its origin. - Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV