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Press Release

Man Sentenced To 5 Years’ Probation And Community Confinement For Aiming Laser At California Highway Patrol Helicopter

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

OAKLAND – Christian Palomino was sentenced today to five years of probation, including 6 months of community confinement at a halfway house, for aiming a laser at a California Highway Patrol (CHP) Helicopter, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.

In pleading guilty, Palomino, 19, of Oakland, admitted that on June 7, 2014, he knowingly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at a CHP Helicopter.  The lasing incident was captured by Palomino in a “selfie” video on his phone.  In the videos, Palomino can be heard yelling at the helicopter pilot, “Look at this laser!”  In addition, a woman can be heard in the background admonishing Palomino, “Don’t do that! You know you could blind . . . You[’re] going to go to jail if you do that. Don’t do that!”

At the time of the lasing incident, the CHP helicopter was assisting the Oakland Police Department in its efforts to locate a domestic violence suspect.  Palomino was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 28, 2014, for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 39A. 

The sentence was handed down late yesterday by the Honorable Phyllis J. Hamilton, U.S. District Judge.  Judge Hamilton also imposed conditions of probation requiring Palomino to refrain from possessing a laser pointer and to perform 200 hours of community service, including educating people about the consequences of aiming laser pointers at aircrafts.  Palomino was ordered to self-surrender to the halfway house on January 4, 2016.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Lewis prosecuted this case with the assistance of Janice Pagsanjan and Melissa Dorton.  This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the CHP.

Updated April 19, 2017

Violent Crime