Author Topic: Man sentenced to prison for pointing laser at multiple planes landing  (Read 7013 times)

Offline KB4TEZ

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SEATTLE (KOMO) — A 41-year-old Washington state man who aimed a laser at two planes in November 2022 has been sentenced to prison.

Christopher Harris was arrested for two counts of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft and has been in custody since his bond was revoked in August 2023, according to the Department of Justice.

Harris was sentenced to eight months in prison and three years of supervised release with intensive addiction and mental health treatment following the prison sentence.

Case records say Harris pointed a blue laser at the cockpit of a two-person personal aircraft at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2022. The laser beam damaged the pilot’s eyes, and he was unable to see his instrument panel in mid-air. After switching the instrument screen backlight on, the pilot was able to safely land the aircraft, but upon landing he needed medical treatment for his eye injury.

  I had to figure out how to land the plane If I had been flying an older aircraft without the instrument visual aids, I likely would not have survived,” said pilot Jonathon Fay who spoke in court. “By the grace of God, I have no permanent vision loss.”
Harris pointed the laser at another plane two and a half hours later. The second plane was a four-seat aircraft being flown by a student pilot and the flight instructor managed to take a picture of the laser light and its origin.

“Shining a laser at aircraft is dangerous for the pilot, those on board, and even those on the ground if the pilot cannot see to safely land,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M Gorman. “Because of that danger, Congress made such conduct a specific federal crime. It is fortunate both planes were able to safely land.”

The Federal Aviation Administration and Arlington police were able to use the pictures to identify the origin of the laser as a storage facility in Marysville, Washington, about 1.5 miles from the Arlington Airport.

Harris was identified using entry logs and video surveillance from the storage facility law enforcement.

“Mr. Harris’s behavior in this case is particularly concerning. This was not one poor decision by Mr. Harris. The two incidents are separated by approximately two-and-a-half hours. Mr. Harris left the storage facility after lasering the first plane before returning to laser the second plane,” said Assistant United States Attorney Jocelyn Cooney. “Both times, Mr. Harris’s actions were deliberate. He pointed the laser for approximately 12 to 13 seconds—a considerable time—and tracked the plane’s cockpit as it moved across the sky.”  District Judge Richard A. Jones said the laser pointing that temporarily damaged the pilot’s vision “was very dangerous, life-threatening, and done without regard for the victims.”