The Orange County Sheriff's Office in the US state of California has released footage showing the arrest of a man who was tracked by the same helicopter he had shone a laser pointer at just minutes before. The sheriff's office said that the incident took place around 7:30pm on Wednesday 10 January.
Pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony offence across the United States as the device can seriously hamper pilots' ability to fly – with potentially calamitous effects.
Authorities said that 41-year-old Farhad Naghipour of Irvine, California, shone the laser pointer at the police helicopter multiple times before getting into his car and driving off. The aircraft followed his vehicle and can be heard guiding patrol cars towards Naghipour in the video.
The video shows two units make Naghipour pull over on the freeway, where he is quickly arrested on suspicion of felony discharging a laser at an aircraft.
According to the sheriff's office, pilots are trained to avert their eyes from lasers pointed towards them – but the devices still pose a serious risk.
"If the laser shot hits the glass of an aircraft in just the right way, the light refracts, illuminating the inside of the aircraft and potentially disorienting the pilots," the sheriff's office said in a news release.
"Or, if the laser hits the pilot at the right angle, the beam can cause retina damage, headaches, and flash-blindness.
In 2015, a man was similarly arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison after pointing a laser at a police helicopter in Fresno, California. Authorities said that the harsh sentence was meant as an attempt to discourage others from carrying out the dangerous practice.