Crime

Tacoma man charged with shining laser on State Patrol plane

A Tacoma man was charged Tuesday with repeatedly shining a laser into the cockpit of a Washington State Patrol plane that was patrolling for impaired drivers over the weekend.

Aaron Huffman, 27, pleaded not guilty to first-degree unlawful discharge of a laser.

Troopers took him into custody early Sunday outside his home at River Road East and 30th Avenue East. They said they found a green laser.

The plane was patrolling about 1,700 to 2,000 feet above Pierce County when the two troopers inside first saw the laser about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

“It flashed a few different times across the cockpit of the aircraft,” trooper Guy Gill said. “You could tell whoever was on the ground was trying to focus it on the plane.”

The pilot used infrared imaging and a mapping program to pinpoint Huffman’s location and direct troopers on the ground to his home.

Huffman allegedly was sitting on his porch, smoking a cigarette, when troopers arrived.

He initially denied having a laser pointer but then suggested the pilots mistook it for a flashlight, according to charging papers. Huffman told troopers he had no idea the plane overhead was a State Patrol aircraft.

“It’s extremely dangerous for everyone involved,” Gill said. “His actions are beyond reckless and beyond dangerous.”

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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