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US: Orlando man shot by police after brandishing laser pointer

An Orlando man bring served an arrest warrant aimed a laser pointer and threw a knife at police, who shot and killed him.

The October 6 2017 incident began when Roberto Callejas, 35, told his family he was waiting for the officers to arrive, and that he had a bomb. While it was later found that Callejas did not have any explosives, he did have two knives and a laser pointer.

When police arrived with a warrant for armed trespassing, Callejas put a knife to his throat. Police tased him. He fell to the ground, then came back up and aimed what police thought was a laser gun sight at them. Officers shot him. Callejas fell again, and again came back up; this time he tried to throw a knife at the police. Officers shot once more and killed him.

According to an Orlando Police spokesperson, Callejas had threatened police before. Police Chief John Mina said “To me it seems he wanted to die at the hands of police.”

Note: This comes on the heels of a similar September 2017 incident where a 31-year-old Bronx man refused to put down a knife and a toy gun with an integral laser pointer. The man was shot and killed after he aimed the toy gun/laser pointer at officers, according to the police account.

From the Orlando Sentinel

US: NYPD video shows man killed for aiming fake gun laser pointer at officers

On September 6 2016, New York City Police Department officers fatally shot a man who they say aimed an imitation gun with a laser pointer at them. Killed was 31-year-old college student Miguel Richards.

Police released four videos from officers’ body-worn cameras, showing how the incident progressed. A detailed look at the laser light seen in videos is below. First though, a summary of the incident.

The fatal incident


Police had been called by Richards’ landlord because Richards had not been seen for a few days. Confronted by two police officers in his Bronx apartment bedroom, Richards stood motionless and silent throughout most of the incident. He had a knife in one hand and the toy gun behind his back.

Miguel Richards toy gun laser pointer NYPD video frame 926

Body-worn video shows the scene.

Police asked him dozens of times to drop the knife and put his hands up. After about 10 minutes, they noticed the gun.

An officer told Richards “"Drop that gun, dude. Drop that gun. I don't want to shoot you if you've got a fake gun in your hand. You hear me? But I will shoot you if that's a real gun."

Two additional officers then arrived; one pulled out a stun gun. Richards appeared to raise his arm and aim the laser pointer towards the officers. The officer with the stun gun fired. After a few seconds, and a possible second laser “shot” from Richards, a second officer fired nine bullets, a third officer fired seven bullets, and the fourth officer did not fire.

Richards died at the scene.

Miguel Richards toy gun laser pointer floor

The imitation pistol with laser pointer lies at the scene; NYPD photo.

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US: Fatal Calif. car accident partially blamed on laser pointer

The following text in blue is from an Associated Press report dated Wednesday, December 30 1998:

Laser May Have Caused Calif. Crash

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) - Authorities detained a man accused of weaving in and out of
traffic at nearly 100 mph and shining a laser pointer, leading to a five-car wreck that
killed four teen-agers.

The California Highway Patrol would not say Tuesday night whether Scott Davis, 34, had been arrested. He crashed through a glass window of a San Jose home as authorities arrived to question him, Oakland TV station KTVU reported.

Davis was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, but a hospital spokeswoman would not comment.

Davis is believed to be the driver of a car that was speeding on Highway 101 late Monday. Witnesses said the driver was shining a laser pointer into other cars before the vehicle collided with a pickup, leading to the pileup.

All four occupants of one car - Charo Ursua, 19, Kevin Owens, 16, Janette Alvarado, 15,
and Michael Zaches, 17 - were killed.

Law enforcement officials partially blamed the accident on the laser pointer, made as an aid for business presentations and teachers. The Food and Drug Administration warned a year ago that the pointers could be more damaging to the eyes than staring at the sun.


A separate SFGate article, still available online as of February 2016, stated: “CHP [California Highway Patrol] investigators were trying to find out what role, if any, the laser pointer may have played in the crash. The pointers shine a bright dot and can cause a momentary loss of vision. ‘That's what's been going on with these laser lights with this craze the past six months,’ the CHP's DiSalvo said. ‘A lot of people use them to try to put fear in other people. . . . Some guns have these laser lights.’

Russia: Teen fatally stabbed for pointing laser at St. Petersburg man

A 17-year-old boarding school student was brutally stabbed to death by Vitaly Torsky, 38, after aiming a laser pointer directly at him. Torsky could receive up to 15 years in prison for the murder. It happened in early July 2013 on Leningrad Street, in the north of St. Petersburg.

From RIA Novosti

US: UPDATED - Man showing laser sight to wife shoots, kills her

A man was demonstrating the laser sight on his AK-47 assault rifle to his wife when the gun fired, killing her. The death, apparently accidental, occurred on February 21 2012.

The Flagler County (FL) Sheriff’s Office said that William Merrill, 32, and his wife Stefanie were at their Palm Coast, Florida home in their master bathroom while their 3-year-old daughter was taking a bath. Merrill pointed the AK-47 at his wife to show her the laser’s beam. The two were talking about how bright the beam was when the gun fired once. Stefanie died at the scene.

Pic 2012-02-23 at 10.46.01 PM
William Merrill


On February 23, Merrill was arrested for manslaughter and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He had been convicted in 2007 on grand theft and other charges.

From the Orlando Sentinel

UPDATED October 30 2012 - William Merrill was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The minimum he could have received was 10 years, and the maximum was 30 years.

The “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” charge was dropped when Merrill pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge. (He could have received up to 45 years if given the maximum under both charges.)

During trial the prosecutor said “I don’t believe, and it’s not our position that Mr. Merrill intentionally killed his wife that morning.” But, he said, Merrill’s actions were egregiously reckless and disregarded safety.

When pronouncing sentence, the judge noted that Merrill had a stash of over 20 firearms and he violated the most basic of firearm rules. The judge concluded that it did not matter if it was an accident, Merrill was guilty of killing his wife.

From FlaglerLive.com

Greece: UK teen stabbed to death after laser pen harassment

A 19-year-old British citizen, on holiday in Greece, was stabbed and killed by a taxi driver angry after the teen and his friends aimed lasers at the driver.

Robert Sebbage and his friends had been shining lasers at taxis waiting in line outside a nightclub. The teens were rushed by two angry taxi drivers, brandishing a knife and a baseball bat. Sebbage was killed; Jordan Manson, 18, was taken to a hospital where he was operated on for stab wounds to the chest and neck. Three other teens were also taken to the hospital, with less serious injuries.

Taxi driver Stelios Morfis, 21, was charged with premeditated murder. A second driver was also arrested as an accomplice.

The stabbing happened in a resort town, Laganas, located on the Greek island of Zakynthos (Zante). The Telegraph noted that “in Laganas, the antics of young British tourists on ‘non-stop party’ holiday packages have provoked growing criticism from the Greek authorities and local residents.”

From The Telegraph. Thanks to Dr. Phil Tyley, Laser Safety Advisor, Senior Scientist, QinetiQ for bringing this to our attention.

UPDATE July 18 2011: Jordan Manson’s parents describe the attack to The Mirror.

Thailand: Protester killed after aiming laser pointer at troops

An anti-government protester in Bangkok was shot and killed after shining a laser pointer at government troops. An eyewitness said “The man was two yards in front of me and took out a laser pointer and started beaming it at the soldiers. I thought it was a crazy thing to do, then he was hit. I felt debris, bits of him hitting me. He went down straight away. There was a bullet exit wound at the back of his head.”

From The Daily Mail online. Caution: graphic photograph of the dead protester.

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Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: The soldier(s) most likely fired either due to the laser pointer provocation, or due to fearing that a weapon with a laser gunsight was being used. The laser pointer light could not harm the troops except possibly at close range if shone into the eyes. Of course, in a protest/street battle situation, soldiers are not going to know or care about the eye safety characteristics of laser pointers.

This is reminiscent of a
2005 case in Florida, where a man aimed a laser pointer at deputies and was shot and killed. It is unfortunate but understandable that those with weapons who are having a laser aimed at them may “shoot first and ask questions later.”

US: Florida man aims laser at deputies, is shot dead

A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy shot and killed a man who had been pointing a laser at a group of deputies early this morning [Feb. 4 2005], WTSP-10 News reports. Thomas Setzer, 24, was said to have aimed the laser from the second floor of an apartment building. The shooting occurred as the deputies went to the apartment to investigate.

Concerned they were being targeted by a laser-sighted weapon, a deputy trained a spotlight on a second-floor window at the adjacent Boardwalk Apartments, and the laser stopped. Then the beam appeared again, this time focusing on the deputies' bodies and tracking them as they walked.

Deputies drove to the apartments to investigate. Within minutes, the man they say pointed the laser was dead.
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