Buttonwillow man sentenced for laser strike on Sheriff's helicopter

BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. - Senior United States District Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Brett Lee Scott, 26, of Buttonwillow, to one year and nine months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for aiming a laser pointer at a law enforcement aircraft, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Scott used two different laser pointers to strike Air-1, a Kern County Sheriff's Office helicopter, over a six-month period.

Scott explained his actions by saying that he was bored.

U.S. Attorney Wagner said the lasers emitted powerful green or purple beams and as a result, the pilots of Air-1 suffered flash blindness that lasted a few minutes, causing disorientation.

U.S. Attorney Wagner said the pilots were ultimately able to pinpoint the origin of the beams and, with help of patrol deputies, identified Scott as a suspect.

According to court documents, both laser pointers in this case exceeded the legal power emission limit. One of the lasers was 17 times more powerful than what is legally permissible.

According to the FAA, there were 3,960 reports of people shining lasers at aircraft in the United States in 2013. In the 34-county Eastern District of California, 94 laser strikes were reported, with the Fresno Yosemite International Airport and Bakersfield Meadows Field Airport reporting the most.

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