PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Williamsport, Pa. man has been convicted of shining a laser at a Philadelphia police helicopter. Sentencing is set for January.
James Gautieri, 53, was convicted on Thursday in federal court of a single count of interfering with the authorized operation of an aircraft.
The pilot, Philadelphia Police lieutenant Anthony Ginaldi, says the laser hit his eyes and caused “flash blindness” (see previous story). He says that without his vision, the helicopter banked right and the nose dipped before his partner took the controls:
“If that laser has struck both of us, I think the damage would be a dead air crew, two dead police officers. Collateral damage on the ground could have been multiple deaths due to the crash of the aircraft.”
At the time, the helicopter was over a residential area, making a low and slow approach to Northeast Philadelphia Airport.
Neither the defendant nor his attorney commented as they left the courtroom.
Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio.