Man sentenced to a year in prison for shining laser pointer at Philadelphia police helicopter

A Philadelphia man was sentenced Thursday to one year in prison for shining a laser pointer at an airborne Philadelphia police helicopter last December. 

Raji Yusuf, 36, will also serve three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $1,000 fine, according to United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams.

Prosecutors said a Philadelphia police helicopter with two aboard was on routine night patrol near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport around 10 p.m. when the aircraft was struck multiple times by a "high intensity green laser."

The laser illuminated the cockpit and temporarily distorted the officers vision, according to investigators. Once they regained their sight, the officer's used a floodlight to illuminate the parking lot Roosevelt Mall and found the suspect, later identified at Yusuf. 

Prosecutors said that at the time of the incident Yusuf was on federal supervision for a 2016 conviction for trafficking firearms. Yusuf was arrested by federal authorities days later for violating his supervised release.

"There is a reason that aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal offense – the consequences for those onboard and anyone in the vicinity could be disastrous," U.S. Attorney Williams said. "Let this be a warning to anyone who might consider trying something similar: you could face serious federal prison time as a result."





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