Huffpost Crime

Usman Tufail Allegedly Points Laser At Police Helicopter

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Investigators in Florida are pointing fingers at a 24-year-old man they claim shined a laser beam at a passing helicopter.

Usman Tufail was arrested last week after police say he flashed a laser eight times at a helicopter used by the Seminole County Sheriff's Dept, WOFL-TV reported.

At the time, authorities inside the helicopter were tailing a burglary suspect. As a result of Tufail's alleged bright idea, the pilots were blinded by the beam and had to stop their pursuit.

Officials haven't said whether Tufail was involved in the burglary incident.

"Some of his statements were such that he wanted to see how far he could shine a laser -- if he could hit the helicopter," Steve Farris, chief pilot for Seminole County Sheriff's Office, told WFTV-TV.

Investigators tracked down where the laser originated and found Tufail. At first, he denied owning a laser, but then admitted flashing the helicopter "to see how far the laser would shine," according to police reports.

Aiming a laser at an aircraft is against state and federal laws because it creates a temporary glare on the windscreen as well as a temporary flash of blindness, similar to a camera flash.

Sheriff's spokesman Heather Smith told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper that the confiscated laser was a lower-power beam used in the building industries.

Tufail was charged with pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot, culpable negligence and resisting an officer without violence. He was booked into the Seminole County jail in lieu of $1,150 bail.

If convicted, he could be fined up to $11,000 for each count and get a five-year prison term.

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