Friday, January 17, 2014


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Man charged with aiming high-powered laser pointer at police helicopter

WHITE PLAINS – Federal charges have been filed against a Hawthorne man for aiming a high-powered laser pointer at a Westchester County police helicopter that was conducting surveillance at the July 2013 Kensico Dam fireworks Independence Day celebration.

The US Government and the alleged perpetrator, Philip Avery Putter, 40, have entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, which was approved Thursday in White Plains federal court.

Putter faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, but under the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, if he abides by the conditions of the agreement for six months, the government will agree to dismiss the complaint.

On the evening of July 5, 2013, two police helicopter pilots were assigned to conduct aerial observation of the celebration. There were between 10,000 and 15,000 people on the ground below.

The pilots said that shortly after they arrived near the Kensico Dam just after 9 p.m., the helicopter was hit by a green laser beam. The contact lasted just seconds. One pilot said the laser hit prevented him from being able to see objects outside the aircraft, and that after the beam struck the helicopter, his night vision was severely impaired. The other pilot said the laser beam impaired his ability to read the flight instruments for a period of time.

Officers on the ground reported looking up and seeing the laser beam pointed at the helicopter. An officer followed the beam down to the ground and saw a man holding a laser pointer. He was late identified as Putter.