A 27-year-old man who repeatedly pointed a green laser at a police helicopter as it patrolled the city last year was fined by a federal judge Wednesday, put on probation and ordered to pay restitution to the Baton Rouge Police Department.
Federal prosecutors in March charged Robert C. Adamek, of Baton Rouge, with forcibly impeding and interfering with an officer. He later pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor.
U.S. District Judge James Brady placed Adamek on probation for one year, fined him $2,000 and ordered him to pay $500 to the BRPD Aviation Unit.
The incident took place about 3 a.m. Feb. 16, 2014, while a police chopper was flying over and around residential neighborhoods in the city. The pilot, according to Adamek’s plea agreement, was repeatedly struck by the laser originating from an East Boyd Drive apartment complex.
The pilot was not blinded by the laser, the agreement states, but the laser strikes were disorienting and could have caused the helicopter to crash.
“Putting lives in danger simply as a result of a prank is inexcusable,” U.S. Attorney Walt Green said when Adamek was charged.
Baton Rouge police spokesman Lt. Jonny Dunnam added, at the time, that such pranks put passengers and crew in danger, as well as anyone on the ground.
The pilot in the February 2014 incident directed police officers on the ground to the area, and an officer observed Adamek aiming an activated laser pointer at the chopper.
He faced up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
From 2004 through 2013, pilots reported nearly 18,000 laser illumination incidents to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Since 2005, U.S. civilian pilots have been required to report any sighting of a laser beam to the FAA.