Man sentenced in laser pointing case

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Laser warning

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A Los Angeles man who pointed a laser at a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter was sentenced today to one year in county jail and two years probation.

Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein also ordered Floyd Atkins, 24, to pay about $200 in fines and fees. “I hope you learn from this,” Klein told the defendant.

Co-defendant Alvaro Jimenez, 22, pleaded no contest earlier this year and was sentenced in September to 60 days of Caltrans service and three years probation.

The men were arrested July 4, 2011, after green laser beams were pointed at LAPD air units. According to Deputy District Attorney Theresa Mitchell, the two were at a home near USC and Atkins actually pointed the laser at the helicopter as Jimenez laughed and opened and closed the front door.

Mitchell told the court that the defendants’ conduct that day “put so many lives at risk,” adding that Atkins “still doesn’t accept responsibility.”

A similar laser-pointing incident occurred about a week earlier, involving both LAPD and California Highway Patrol helicopters. As a result of the earlier incident, the air units were able to pinpoint a location for the Fourth of July laser beam activity.

“Potential for danger is so great” when lasers are pointed at aircraft, Mitchell said outside court after Atkins was convicted in late July.

The problem of laser pointer attacks prompted legislation signed into law this year by President Barack Obama, making it a federal crime to deliberately point a laser at an aircraft. California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hazards to pilots include temporary distraction and impaired vision, which is particularly dangerous during the critical takeoff or landing phase of flight.

In addition, pilots have reported the need to abort landings or relinquish control of the aircraft to another pilot as a result of laser attacks.

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