Federal Grand Jury Indicts Man for Endangering Airborne First Responders by Aiming Laser Pointer at Spokane County Aircraft

Spokane, Washington – A man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for pointing a laser pointer at a Spokane County Sheriff’s aircraft and Life Flight helicopter. The incident occurred on October 13, 2023, when the suspect, Johnny R. Blackstock, allegedly shone a laser pointer at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Air One helicopter during a routine patrol.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington emphasized the gravity of pointing lasers at aircraft, stating that such actions could have life-threatening consequences. Law enforcement officials, as well as first responders involved in medical emergencies, face extreme danger when confronted with these dangerous acts. U.S. Attorney Waldref, in a press release, expressed gratitude towards the law enforcement partners and first responders who put themselves at risk to protect and serve the community.

Although Blackstock has been indicted, it’s important to note that an indictment is merely an allegation and does not equate to guilt. By law, all defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. The case is currently under investigation by the United States Department of Transportation.

Shining lasers at aircraft is a serious offense that has gained increased attention in recent years. The bright light emitted by the laser pointer can temporarily impair the vision of pilots, potentially jeopardizing the safety of crew members, passengers, and people on the ground. This incident serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to address the issue and protect the safety and well-being of those involved in aviation.

The consequences for individuals convicted of pointing lasers at aircraft can be severe. In the United States, federal law prohibits this behavior under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Those found guilty could face fines and imprisonment, highlighting the seriousness with which authorities treat such offenses.

With the case still under investigation, it remains to be seen what charges, if any, will be brought against Blackstock. The United States Department of Transportation will continue its efforts to gather evidence and conduct a thorough examination of the incident.

As this incident highlights the potential dangers and legal ramifications associated with pointing lasers at aircraft, it serves as a reminder of the importance of adhering to safety regulations and protecting those who ensure the safety of our skies. Cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the public is crucial to maintaining the well-being of all those involved in aviation operations.