Interactive graphic: View additional details on aircraft laser incidents
A federal judge sentenced a Tulsa man to three years of probation Friday after he admitted to pointing a laser at a police helicopter last February.
U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan imposed the sentence on Carl Don Floyd following a short hearing in Tulsa federal court, saying she considered both the nature of the offense as well as his criminal history.
In November, Floyd entered a guilty plea on the eve of his second jury trial in the case. As part of an agreement, prosecutors agreed to support a probationary sentence.
Floyd’s initial trial resulted in a deadlocked federal jury in July.
Eagan granted a defense request for probation after Floyd’s attorney argued in court filings that he was the sole caregiver for his 14-year-old daughter. A prison term would “impose an extraordinary hardship upon Mr. Floyd’s family and in particular his daughter,” papers filed on his behalf state.
“Though Mr. Floyd may not be able to provide much financial support, the emotional support and bond between a father and his teenage daughter should be considered by the court,” the request says.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of 37 to 46 months, although Floyd faced a possible prison term of up to five years and a $250,000 fine in connection with the single count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.
State Department of Corrections records indicate that Floyd received a six-year prison term in 1999 in connection with drug and forgery charges. Also, Floyd was sentenced to drug court in connection with a 2007 drug-related case, DOC records reflect.
In granting probation, Eagan ordered Floyd to serve the first six months of the term in home detention, with allowances to leave for work. Eagan waived a fine in the case after finding that Floyd did not have the ability to pay.
Police arrested Floyd at his home in the 2100 block of West Archer Place after a police helicopter crew reported that a green laser struck their aircraft multiple times while on patrol. One of the crew members said he was struck in both eyes by the laser.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the number of reported laser strikes on aircraft appears to have leveled off in 2014 after increasing more than 1,000 percent since 2005.
The number of reported laser incidents involving aircraft nationwide declined from 3,960 in 2013 to 3,894 in 2014, FAA data indicates.
In the Tulsa area, the number of laser incidents declined from 29 in 2013 to 14 in 2014.
A federal law became effective in February 2012 that made it a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft.