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Date: 06-01-2021

Case Style:

United States of America v. Manuel Martin Salazar-Leija, Jr.

Case Number: 3:20-cr-00094-DJH


Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky (Jefferson County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office

Defendant's Attorney:

Louisville Criminal Defense Lawyer Directory

Description: Louisville, Kentucky aiming a laser at an aircraft charge criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant accused of aiming a laser pointer at a Louisville Metro Police helicopter

Manuel Martin Salazar-Leija, Jr., 26, of Louisville, aimed the beam of a laser pointer at an LMPD helicopter on September 25, 2020, during protests in the city. Lasers can blind pilots and cause the aircraft to crash, and aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal felony offense.

In addition to 2 years of probation and 8 months of home incarceration, United States District Court Judge David Hale ordered Salazar-Leija, Jr., to pay a $2,500 fine and the costs of his home incarceration.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weiser prosecuted the case.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft in violation of 18 U.S.C. 39, which provides:

(a) Offense.—Whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

(b) Laser Pointer Defined.—As used in this section, the term “laser pointer” means any device designed or used to amplify electromagnetic radiation by stimulated emission that emits a beam designed to be used by the operator as a pointer or highlighter to indicate, mark, or identify a specific position, place, item, or object.

(c) Exceptions.—This section does not prohibit aiming a beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft, or the flight path of such an aircraft, by—

(1) an authorized individual in the conduct of research and development or flight test operations conducted by an aircraft manufacturer, the Federal Aviation Administration, or any other person authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct such research and development or flight test operations;

(2) members or elements of the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security acting in an official capacity for the purpose of research, development, operations, testing, or training; or

(3) by an individual using a laser emergency signaling device to send an emergency distress signal.

Outcome: Defendant was setenced to two years of probation, fined $2,500 and assessed $100.00.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


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