Milwaukee man sentenced to probation for pointing laser at aircraft

A Milwaukee man who pleaded guilty to a felony charge of pointing a laser at law enforcement aircraft during police brutality protests in 2020 has been sentenced to a year of probation.

The Journal Sentinel reports 39-yea-old Jeremiah Belen apologized for his actions during an online sentencing hearing on Friday. He said he supports law enforcement but made the decision to point the laser at the aircraft out of boredom after being laid off work during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Authorities say between May 31 and June 7, 2020, during protests and civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, an FBI surveillance plane and a Wisconsin National Guard Blackhawk helicopter were targeted by a green laser seven times.

Crew members for the two aircraft said the laser at times hit their cockpit or forced them to maneuver away from the laser. Crew members aboard the surveillance plane had to start wearing special goggles designed to minimize the laser's effects.

Cameras from the surveillance plane helped narrow the source of the laser.

Belen says he owned the powerful laser because he enjoyed stargazing with his two children.