A Tulsa man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to aiming the beam of a laser pointer at a Tulsa Police helicopter earlier this year.
Carl Don Floyd, 43, changed his plea to guilty on the eve of his second trial, which was scheduled to start Monday.
Floyd was arrested Feb. 15 after a police helicopter crew reported a green laser struck their aircraft multiple times while on patrol. A federal jury deadlocked in July while weighing Floyd’s fate on the charges related to the incident.
The government claimed Floyd was outside his home in the 2100 block of West Archer Place when he knowingly pointed a laser pointer at the helicopter, striking it at least three times.
An officer flying in the helicopter testified during the July trial that one of the laser strikes hit him in both eyes.
Floyd admitted to authorities that he was pointing the laser at objects outside his home that evening while “jackassing around,” but he maintained that he was aiming at a cell tower, a mailbox and a tree and that he didn’t knowingly illuminate the helicopter with the laser.
Floyd, in a written statement filed Thursday, admitted he “knowingly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at the flight path of a helicopter that I was aware was flying nearby.”
In his plea agreement, Floyd is referenced as suffering severe injuries in a July 21 motorcycle accident.
The government agreed that in light of Floyd’s medical condition and prognosis that factors to be considered at his sentencing “support the court’s imposition of a probationary sentence” in the case.
Sentencing is scheduled on Feb. 20 in U.S. District Court in Tulsa. Floyd faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
There were 3,960 reports of laser strikes in the United States in 2013, according to a written statement from U.S. District Attorney Danny Williams’ office, citing statistics from the Federal Aviation Administration.