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UK: Footage of Birmingham helicopter tracking suspect after being lasered

Birmingham police released a video showing two youths lasering a helicopter, then running and unsuccessfully attempting to flee.

Frame from video showing a direct hit on the camera

The youths are standing under a streetlight, next to a car as they continue to aim at the helicopter

The infrared camera gets a close-up view as the youth on the right aims his laser

After realizing he may be in trouble, one of the youths starts running

The camera pulls back and is able to track him. He was later captured and fined
£100 in youth court.

Click to play the YouTube video

For a transcript of the video narration, click the “Read More...” link below.

Related stories in the Birmingham Mail March 11 2009 and April 6 2009, and the Sunday Mercury May 7 2009

Transcript of the Birmingham police department video, showing two youths lasering a helicopter on March 7 2009. The video is available at YouTube.

“This is the moment a teenager blasted a green laser into the eyes of a police helicopter pilot hovering in the skies above Birmingham. Now the 17-year-old has been warned he could be sent to custody for the act of complete stupidity, that could have brought the high-tech Eurocopter crashing to the ground. A Saltley teenager, who can't be named for legal reasons, admitted acting recklessly or negligently in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, in the city's youth court on Monday [April 6 2009].

“The helicopter containing a pilot and police observer were in action over Herrick Road, Alum Rock, at about 9 pm on Saturday March 7 [2009] when the incident happened. Prosecutor Shawn Kind [?] said during the court case that Captain Nicholas Clarkson became aware of what he described as an intense bright and green laser light directly shining into the cockpit. Mr. Kind said the pilot's eyesight was affected by the laser light and it made it difficult for him to see outside. As a result of his night vision being reduced, he immediately took action, turning the nose of the aircraft away from the light source.

“In a statement Captain Clarkson said if he had been struck directly in the eyes by the laser beam it could have left him temporarily blinded which could have caused him to lose control of the helicopter and crash. Fortunately, he managed to keep the helicopter's camera on the defendant and directed police on the ground to his whereabouts. He was arrested after trying to hide in some undergrowth.

“The incident was captured on a police camera, and the footage was shown to the magistrates as the teenager sat in court with his head bowed. Defending solicitor Aftab Zahor [?] said the teenager, who was at college and wanted to become a fitness instructor, had carried out an act of complete stupidity. He said he had not foreseen the consequences of his actions and that he had panicked when he realized that police had spotted him. Mr. Zahor added that the defendant had been with someone else at the time who had also been responsible for shining the laser.

“Acting sergeant Alan Meredith, with the force's operations aviation unit, said the risk to aircraft and the public of the pilot being temporarily blinded are obvious, and the West Midlands police would actively seek anyone who attempts to do so.”