Laser pointed at police helicopter results in criminal conviction

Ponca City Now - October 31, 2018 3:48 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY — Aaron Donaciano Camarillo-Morales, 25, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty today to pointing a laser at an Oklahoma City Police Department helicopter, announced Robert J. Troester of the United States Attorney’s Office.

According to a complaint filed on Oct. 16, 2018, the Air Support Unit of the Oklahoma City Police Department contacted a Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Transportation—Office of Inspector General on September 18, 2018, to report that a green laser had struck a police helicopter.  According to an affidavit in support of the complaint, the pilot had been temporarily blinded by a laser that appeared to emanate from a silver van in the area of 29th and South Shields driven by Camarillo-Morales.

On Wednesday, Camarillo-Morales pleaded guilty to pointing a laser at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.  He admitted to United States District Judge Robin J. Cauthron that he knew he had directed a beam at a police helicopter.  His conduct violated a statute that specifically prohibits pointing lasers at aircraft.  Congress enacted this criminal prohibition in 2012 to prevent pilots from losing control of their aircraft as a result of laser beams.

At sentencing, Camarillo-Morales faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, up to three years of supervised release, and restitution to the Oklahoma City Police Department.  He will be detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service until imposition of sentence, which is scheduled for Nov. 15.  After he serves his sentence, he will be subject to deportation proceedings.

“In this district, we will do all we can to deter anyone who considers pointing a laser at an aircraft—especially an aircraft operated by law enforcement,” said Troester.  “It is against federal law and a public safety issue to point a laser at any aircraft because it endangers the lives of those in the aircraft and those on the ground if the aircraft loses control.”

“The criminal charges and plea in this investigation demonstrate that ensuring the safety of the nation’s air transportation system remains a high priority for both the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Department of Transportation (DOT),” said Joseph Zschiesche, DOT-OIG Regional Special Agent in Charge.  “We will continue working with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to pursue and apprehend individuals who violate the law and endanger public safety by intentionally aiming a laser pointing device at aircraft.”

This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation—Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Oklahoma City Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Travis D. Smith is prosecuting the case.


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