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Man faces felony charges for shining laser in Portland cop’s eyes

Booking photo for Bryan Kelley. (Multnomah County Jail, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, photo/Released)
September 17, 2020

A grand jury indicted a Portland man on felony charges after he allegedly shined a laser strong enough to start fires into the eyes of a Portland Police Bureau sergeant.

36-year-old Bryan Kelley was charged with one count of second-degree assault, one count of unlawful use of a weapon, and two counts of unlawful directing of light from a laser pointer, KATU2 News reported Tuesday. The indictment says Kelley intentionally used the laser pointer against the police officer during an Aug. 25 demonstration after protesters attacked and broke into Portland City Hall.

The incident occurred as Portland saw rioting throughout July and August, during which rioters threw explosives and incendiary devices, vandalized local buildings and a federal courthouse, and used lasers pointed at officers. Federal Protective Service (FPS) Deputy Director of Operations Richard “Kriss” Cline said three federal officers may suffer permanent blindness after people shined lasers into their eyes.

According to court documents presented in the case, the police sergeant saw Kelley aiming a blue laser into his eyes in multiple instances. The laser hit the officer in the eyes several times and he had to avert his gaze because of the intensity of the laser. Despite his efforts to avert his gaze, the officer reported impairment to his vision after having been hit by the laser, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office.

Police later arrested Kelley near Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Jefferson Street, the street corner on the southwest side of Portland City Hall. According to the court documents, police found a blue laser in his back pocket when they arrested Kelley.

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Police reportedly tested the power of the recovered blue laser by shining it on a piece of cardboard. The laser was reportedly powerful enough to set the piece of cardboard on fire.

Kelley was jailed that night, on charges of unlawfully directing of light from a laser pointer, second-degree disorderly conduct, and interfering with a peace officer. He was later released from jail.

Detectives who followed up on Kelley’s case issued new warrants to arrest the man for the new charges, including second-degree assault, a count of unlawful use of a weapon, and two counts of unlawful directing of light from a laser pointer.

According to OregonLaws.org, second-degree assault is classified as a Class B felony. Such felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Unlawful use of a weapon is classified as a Class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. The charge of unlawful directing of light from a laser pointer is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $6,250.