Savannah man charged with pointing laser at helicopter being used in police search

Police lights file graphic.
Police lights file graphic.(Gray News, file)
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A Savannah man faces up to five years in prison for pointing a laser at a helicopter being used in a police search.

Antonio Johnson Sr., 45, is charged with one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.

Savannah Police Department officers identified and questioned Johnson after the pilot of a Chatham County helicopter was repeatedly targeted from the ground while assisting officers in the search for a fugitive.

The Chief Flight Instructor at Savannah Aviation explained the danger this puts pilots in.

“You know, speaking to helicopter pilots, uh you know, being an airplane pilot, you know we’ll fly low sometimes for emergency procedures and things like that. A helicopter pilot, my assumption is that helicopter is pretty low, especially if it’s in a police pursuit, so you know, if I was to be flashed in the eyes and I’m flying a helicopter and I’m very low to the ground, you know there’s a chance that I could drift off my course and impact an obstacle that’s very low to the ground. And that’s not something that, you know I’m sure, any police department would want,” Savannah Aviation Chief Flight Instructor Zack Hartley said.

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