On Saturday, September 17, 2016, at approximately 11:38 p.m., Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Air 1 flight crews encountered a laser strike while on patrol over the Spokane Valley.
The extremely dangerous action was immediately reported to Spokane Valley Patrol Deputies who responded to the 800 block of North Van Marter to look for the suspect, later identified as 32-year-old Brandon J. Neeser.
Air 1 flight crews directed Deputy Clay Hilton (also an Air 1 crew member) and Deputy Jeff Bailey to where Neeser was standing on the back deck of a residence. The Deputies identified themselves and ordered Neeser to show his hands. Instead of following the commands, Neeser quickly pulled his hand out of his pocket and pointed a red laser at the deputies. Fortunately, with the light provided by Air 1 and their flashlights, the deputies recognized the laser was not attached to a firearm.
Deputies took Neeser into custody without further incident and recovered a multicolored LED laser light. Neeser told Deputy Hilton he “thought it would be funny” to point the laser at the helicopter and stated he didn’t know it was a crime. He also stated he pointed the laser at the deputies because they were pointing lights at him.
Deputy Hilton informed Neeser it was a crime to maliciously point a laser at any aircraft or at a law enforcement officer.
Neeser was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for 2 counts of Unlawful Discharge of a Laser, 1st Degree.