Miami teen accused of pointing laser at police chopper

Dennys Diaz faces federal judge

Published On: Mar 11 2013 03:33:02 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 07 2013 06:25:45 PM EST
Dennys Diaz
MIAMI -

A Miami teenager accused of pointing a laser at a Miami-Dade police helicopter faced a federal judge Thursday.

Dennys Diaz is charged with knowingly aiming beam of laser pointer at aircraft in special aircraft jurisdiction.

According to court documents, Diaz, 18, aimed a green laser pointer at a police helicopter near Northwest 79th Street and 5th Avenue on Jan. 18.

The helicopter pilot reported seeing a green laser illuminate the cockpit. He alerted ground units who arrested Diaz and Ramon Canelas.

Police found a laser pointer in Diaz's pocket, according to court documents. Canelas told police Diaz aimed the laser pointer at the police helicopter.

The judge scheduled another hearing for 10 a.m. on April 9.

It is growing trend that pilots call extremely dangerous.

"In the past 18 months, we've had about six laser incidents, four of which have happened on active search rescue cases," said Lt. Joe Forging of the U.S Coast Guard.

Navy helicopter pilot Lt. Fernando Reyes was flying about a mile off the coast of Florida when it happened to him.

"Just imagine yourself driving at night and somebody just flashing you with a camera flash pretty much in front of your face and that's what it felt like for two seconds," said Reyes.

The effect looks nothing like it does at close range. At a distance, the laser beam creates a blinding effect -- a glare across the window that prevents a pilot from seeing his or her instruments.

"We had one pilot with severe symptoms. He had a headache, a prolonged headache over the next few days, a little bit of vertigo, and kind of a dizziness where it affected his optic nerve," said Commander Richard Hancock, a U.S. Coast Guard pilot.

"Parents need to monitor what their kids are bringing in the house or taking out of the house for that matter, and question their motives. What are they doing with this sort of thing?" said Ken Jefferson, a crime analyst.

Diaz faces up to five years in prison.