A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Both men lived in a Fort Myers (Florida) apartment complex, in units identically numbered "102". Ryan Modell, 32, had been heavily drinking on March 19 to celebrate a new job. At about 2:30 am on March 20, Modell — wearing only shorts— knocked on the door of 46-year0old Steve Taylor, in a different unit 102.
Taylor got his 10 mm Glock handgun and answered the door. He told Modell he had the wrong unit, but to Taylor, the intoxicated Modell didn't respond and appeared drugged. Taylor said he pointed the gun at Modell, warning him not to approach, but Modell charged.
Taylor closed the door, injuring Modell's toe. Taylor's wife called police. Taylor went outside and found Modell hosing off his bloody toe. Taylor aimed the gun at Modell and turned on the laser pointer aiming device. That is when Modell sprayed water, made threats and charged.
Mark O'Mara, a lawyer for Modell's father, said Modell had an understandable reaction for a person who thought he was about to be shot. He said "If you put a laser on my chest, there is one of two things I am going to do: duck and run, or kill you."
Taylor says he fired when Modell was within two feet; O'Mara says evidence indicates it was several feet back.
The 2016 case became controversial due to Florida's "stand your ground" law being used. In January 2020, O'Mara asked Florida's governor to appoint a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the shooting, and wants Taylor charged with second-degree murder.
Bryant lived in Combs, Arkansas, next to a group of people who would shine red, blue and green laser light into his windows at night, and into his face as he tried to sleep in a recliner in his living room. Bryant reported the laser harassment to police for a few months prior to the August 8 2018 shooting. He also reported loud music, loose dogs, and the possibility his neighbors were making methamphetamine.
During an altercation on August 8 2018, one of the alleged harassers, 30-year-old Samuel Scott Hicks threatened to shoot Bryant, according to Bryant's lawyer. Hicks bend down to pick up something off the ground. Bryant saw something in Hicks' hand and thought it was a shotgun, but Hicks apparently picked up a silver-colored laser pointer, which was later found at the scene. Bryant thought it was a gun and shot Hicks, killing him.
At trial in September 2019, a prosecutor disputed Bryant's account of laser harassment. He said Hicks had a new laser pointer that he was playing with, but he did not point it at Bryant's house.
On September 13 2019, after two hours of deliberation a jury decided Bryant shot in self-defense and found him not guilty.
Bryant's troubles were not over as Hicks' estate filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit on September 3 2019. It is not known if the suit was dropped after Bryant's acquittal.
From Arkansas Online (articles on the civil suit, the start of the trial, and after the jury acquitted) and 40/29 News
Police say the 38-year-old man aimed a laser pointer at the driver when he pulled alongside the bus that parked at a stop in Meguro Ward during July 2018. He was arrested for suspicion of assaulting the driver and obstructing public services.
The bus driver was unharmed but he felt that something was wrong with his eyes. He continued driving to the next stop before another driver took over.
The man left the scene at the time. But police identified him with security camera footage after receiving a report.
The man reportedly admitted to the charges.
Many similar incidents have been reported across Japan in recent years.
From NHK World-Japan
The California Highway Patrol received a number of calls from motorists who saw or were illuminated by the laser light.
James Gilbert Trujillo, 33, was arrested on suspicion of discharging a laser at an aircraft in the June 6 incident. He will appear in court June 11.
From the Victorville Daily Press and San Bernardino Sun. This news item was also filed under the Aviation incident news section.
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
Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: There is a Joplin city ordinance, dating from 1999, that makes it illegal to annoy, harass or injure a person or animal. It also is illegal for a person under 18 to possess a laser pointer. It is not known how it would be illegal for a 36-year-old to possess a laser pointer.
From the Joplin Globe
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.
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.
The imitation pistol with laser pointer lies at the scene; NYPD photo.
A caller had reported to police that a man had “something attached to a laser that appeared to be a firearm.” Police arrested Jose M. Padilla as he was leaving the area in a van.
Padilla had been arrested July 10 2017 on a firearms charge. He was not to possess firearms or ammunition. When arrested on July 18, ammunition was found in the van.
He was charged with two misdemeanors: suspicion of violating a firearms emergency protective order, and suspicion of pointing a laser pointer with the intent to cause a person to fear harm.
From the Daily Republic and The Reporter
From “Court News” in the Macoupin (IL) County Enquirer-Democrat
On April 17 state police announced that Jonathan Edward Rayner was arrested and a laser pointer was retrieved. Rayner had been a passenger in another car on the highway. The 32-year-old man was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and with “assaulting-resisting-obstructing a police officer.” Both assault charges are felonies. The maximum penalty is four years in prison on the dangerous weapon charge, and 20 years in prison for assaulting a police officer.
Jonathan Edward Rayner
The incident happened on eastbound Interstate 94 in Wayne County at about 8 pm. The trooper was taken to a hospital “with vision problems and headache.” Later that day, state police tweeted “His vision has returned and he has been cleared. Other than a serious headache he should be back to work.”
From two tweets by Michigan State Police Metro Detroit, as initially reported in ClickOnDetroit.com. Announcement of the suspect’s name and the charges from the Detroit News, Fox 2 Detroit and the Morning Sun. Thanks to David Bothner for bringing this to our attention.
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.’
A motorist called 911 to report that a male in the front passenger seat of a silver Honda was shining the laser onto cars and trucks. The caller said the laser made it difficult to see, and almost caused a crash involving an 18-wheel truck and another vehicle. The Honda was traveling northbound on I-75 in Bradley County, east of Chattanooga.
Officers located the car, where Gary Dewayne Couey admitted aiming the laser at other vehicles. He was arrested on a charge of felony reckless endangerment. The driver of the car, 34-year-old Brandi Rapier, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
Gary Dewayne Couey
On July 7, Peterson made a Facebook post where he threatened to kill police, and referenced being shot by police. Three days later, West Jordan police officer Ian Adams was patrolling a shopping center and saw Peterson, who ran. During the chase, Peterson turned and drew an object that looked like a handgun. Adams shot Peterson twice, once in the legs and once in the buttocks.
The object was found to be a piece of bent metal with a taped-on laser pointer.
Click to read more...
The injury to her fovea is permanent. In a machine-translated statement, she said “All fuzzy horrors bothers me the light. I sense what I see on the screen, but I can not really read and, of course, I dare not drive.”
The clinic says this is the first case it has seen of permanent retinal damage by a laser pointer.
The woman’s husband purchased three lasers in a tourist area of Shanghai, for €30 (USD $40). One emitted a red beam, one a blue beam and one a green beam. The spower was said to be between 500 and 6,000 milliwatts (1/2 to 6 watts). There were no user warnings on the laser.
The clinic believes the laser was not aimed directly in the eye, but was probably reflected off an object. While the article and machine-translation are not clear, it is possible that one or more of the lasers used a diffraction grating to create multiple “stars”. The article discusses lasers that “allow decorative figures with the laser on the surface” and then quotes the victim as saying “Ours were beautiful: creating colorful stars in the sky.”
From LaVanguardia.com. Original article in Spanish here; Google machine translation into English here. Thanks to Jose-Maria Silvestre on the LinkedIn Laser Safety Professionals group for bringing this to our attention.
From RIA Novosti
There was no reason given for Levy’s use of the laser pointer against the driver of the fire truck.
Irene Marie Levy
From KABC and the Press-Enterprise
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2012: Levy was arrested on November 2 2012 for aiming a laser at a police cruiser, then at the sheriff’s department helicopter sent to investigate. More on this story is here.
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.
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.
Harrison disputes the charges. Regarding the laser, he said “There wasn’t a laser attached to the taser anywhere. This is one of those tasers that has a little LED flashlight on the end of it, where you can push the button kind of like one of those key-chain LED flashlights.”
Harrison will appear before a judge in May, and is confident that “the truth will come out in the end.”
Note about whether tasers include lasers: A quick check of a feature chart at the Taser website shows that all three of their consumer models, C2, X26C and M26C include lasers which help in aiming the device. The C2 also includes one LED light for general illumination while the X26C has two LED lights.
“No one was injured in a crash in the parking lot of Papa John’s on Hanover Street at 2:27 p.m. Dec. 29 . Paul B. Matter, 23, of Carlisle told police that he attempted to prevent Derek Pospisil, 30, of Carlisle from leaving the parking lot because Pospisil had been shinning a laser pointer into Matter’s mirrors while they were driving down the road earlier. Pospisil did not stop when Matter blocked his path. No one was charged because the parking lot is private property.”
Via The Sentinel
Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
King said he was “kidding around” while demonstrating the laser to friends. He was given a $75 ticket for shining a laser pointer to harass or alarm. A court date of January 13 was set for Bristol Superior Court.
From MyRecordJournal.com and Southington Patch
As part of the sentence, the judge ordered that McBride continue mental therapy even after he completes his sentence.
Original story from KXRO Newsradio. Remainder of story pieced together from searching “laser” at the Daily World paid website.
Clark was arrested on a previous outstanding warrant, and now faces additional charges of cocaine possession and resisting arrest. It appears that no charges were brought against his laser pointing actions.
From the Post-Tribune (Gary, Indiana)
Manz and two others, David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34, were arrested July 20 2010 in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. From news reports, it appears the most serious incident involved river barges. U.S. District Court Judge Jon McCalla told Manz “You’re pointing a laser at a tugboat with 40 barges and chemicals on it and you could sink the tow. You could kill people, take out the bridge... [The tugboat captains] thought they were being targeted by someone with a high-powered rifle.”
Erminger and Mauck have not yet been sentenced on charges of crimes of violence against maritime navigation and sabotage of aircraft. Government prosecutors will be recommending diversion, a more mild form of probation.
From the Memphis Commercial Appeal
UPDATE: On June 22 2011, Erminger and Mauck were placed on one-year diversion. The criminal charges against them will be erased as long as they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
In addition to the laser harassment, the man also had “littered the entrance” to the stations with pornographic photos on Feb. 8
He told interrogators that others “have often been blinded in the same way.”
From Allgemeine Zeitung