Man convicted of shining laser at police chopper during protest

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A Lemon Grove man who aimed a laser pointer at a San Diego police helicopter during a police protest this summer is facing a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison following his conviction by a federal jury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

Rudy Alvarez, 25, was found guilty by a jury in San Diego federal court late Wednesday for shining a laser at the SDPD chopper around 8:30 p.m. June 4 in the area of 500 University Ave.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Alvarez shined the laser at the chopper multiple times over the course of an hour as he marched with protesters through downtown San Diego.

The count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 22.

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer called the result “a very important verdict” and said “This kind of crime could have a disastrous impact if a pilot’s sight is compromised. We support the Constitutional rights of free speech and assembly, but the rule of law must be respected. It’s there for a reason — to protect the public and law enforcement from danger.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also charged San Diego resident Stephen Glenn McLeod with the same count for allegedly directing a laser at a San Diego Police Department chopper multiple times during a protest on Aug. 28.

His case remains pending with a trial-setting hearing slated for Dec. 18.

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