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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office: Don’t point lasers at our helicopter

Spokane County sheriff's helicopter (Spokane County Sheriff's Office)

Here’s a crime you may know not about: “unlawful of discharge of a laser in the first degree.”

It’s a class C felony in Washington with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. It’s illegal to point a laser light at on-duty firefighters, law enforcement officers, pilots and bus drivers because it could impair their vision or make them think they’re being targeted with a gun.

On Saturday, Spokane County sheriff’s deputies arrested a man on two counts of that crime.

The Sheriff’s Office helicopter was patrolling over Spokane Valley when the flight crew spotted a red laser beaming up at them, according to a news release. Deputies later found Brandon J. Neeser, 32, at a home in the 800 block of North Van Marter Road.

When they confronted him, the news release said, Neeser “quickly pulled his hand out of his pocket and pointed a red laser at the deputies. Fortunately … the deputies recognized the laser was not attached to a firearm.”

Neeser told deputies he “thought it would be funny” to point the laser at the helicopter and said he didn’t know it was a crime, the news release said. He was booked and released from the Spokane County Jail.