Man charged with assault after laser pointed at Edmonton police helicopter

A 41-year-old man is facing charges after a laser was pointed several times at the Edmonton Police Service patrol helicopter.

Around 2 a.m. Saturday, Air 1 was flying over north Edmonton when it was struck several times by a blue laser, police said in a news release Wednesday. 

The pilot was able to track the origin of the laser pointer, helping patrol officers locate and arrest the suspect. 

The man was charged with assault with a weapon, mischief and breach of probation, police said. 

In a tweet posted later Saturday morning, police said the incident could have been dangerous for the helicopter crew. 

‘Quite blinding’

“Being hit with a laser is like having a flashlight at point-blank range at our altitude,” police said in the tweet.  “Lasers can do far more damage.”

Police released photos showing a beam of blue light shining into the helicopter’s cockpit. 

“Pointing a laser or any other projected light at any aircraft could result in criminal charges and or penalties under the Canadian Aviation Regulations,” Sgt. James Pennie with the EPS Flight Operations Unit said in a statement.

“As you can see in the images taken by Air 1, the laser can be quite blinding to the human eye and could impose serious safety risks to our members operating the aircraft,” Pennie said. 

“In this specific case, both aircrew members were affected.”

The pilot was able to track the origin of the laser, leading to an arrest. (Edmonton Police Service)

Police say the laser dangerously obscured the vision of the helicopter crew. (Edmonton Police Service)

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