A San Diego man is facing five years in prison after he was convicted Thursday of aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter. In a decision handed down Thursday, a jury found Rudy Alvarez, 25, guilty endangering the helicopter's pilot when he directed the laser pointer at him during a June Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Prosecutors say he shined the laser at the chopper "multiple times" over the course of an hour. In addition to five years in prison, Alvarez is facing a fine of $250,000 when he's sentenced in February. "This kind of crime could have a disastrous impact if a pilot's sight is compromised," says U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. "We support the Constitutional rights of free speech and assembly, but the rule of law must be respected. It's there for a reason: to protect the public and law enforcement from danger." Does the punishment fit the crime? Could a tiny laser pointer really cause a pilot to crash?