Photos: Nathan Finneman faces fifteen years in jail for aiming laser pointer at police helicopter

Categories: Colorado Crimes

nathan.finneman.facebook.1.565x300.jpg
Nathan Finneman defies gravity in a photo from his Facebook page.
Nathan Finneman is an adventurer who loves to fly -- and he doesn't shy away from the spotlight, having been featured in stories by at least two TV stations in recent years.

Now, however, he's getting the kind of attention he undoubtedly would have preferred to avoid. He's been charged by federal prosecutors with aiming a laser pointer at a Denver police helicopter -- an act that could net him up to fifteen years behind bars. Details, photos and videos below.

See also: "Drone shooting event" in Deer Trail: Phil Steel plans to have a blast

Finneman, 26, was featured in a 2012 9News profile that focused on his love of flying motorized paragliders. And during last year's flooding in the Boulder area, he captured footage of the devastation from such an aircraft and shared it with Fox31 in a cilp on view below.

nathan.finneman.fox31.jpg
Nathan Finneman in a Fox31 piece on view below.
Finneman's Facebook page, which identifies him as an "athlete at Go Fast Sports & Beverage," is peppered with pics of him airborne, including this one....

nathan.finneman.facebook.2.jpg
...and this one....

nathan.finneman.facebook.3.jpg
...as well as a video offering a look at the sky from his point of view:

Other pics show Finneman engaged in motorcycling and other extreme sports -- but his most recent posts, shared earlier this week, concern outreach on behalf of a homeless man he's befriended.

In short, Finneman seems like an extremely unlikely person to endanger anyone, let alone a fellow pilot -- but that's precisely what the U.S. Attorney's Office contends that he did.

On April 19 and 20 of last year, according to a July 2 federal grand jury indictment cited by prosecutors, Finneman "allegedly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft, namely a Bell helicopter operated by the Denver Police Department." A release adds that "the police helicopter, known as 'Air One,' was able to use equipment on board to identify the source of the laser pointer."

nathan.finneman.facebook.4.jpg
The caption on this Facebook photo of Finneman reads, "Fly me to the moon."
A trivial matter? Not in the opinion of U.S. Attorney John Walsh, who says in a statement that "pointing a laser at the pilot of a helicopter or airplane not only puts the pilot and passengers of the aircraft at risk, it exposes the public on the ground to the danger of an emergency landing or even a crash. What might seem like a harmless prank is far from it -- laser blinding of pilots is a serious and dangerous crime that we will prosecute."

If convicted on each of the three counts against him, Finneman could be imprisoned for up to fifteen years and pay as much as $750,000 in fines -- punishment that would represent a big fall for the high flier. At this writing, he has not responded to a Westword request for an interview. He's scheduled to be arraigned on July 22.

Here's the aforementioned Fox31 report broadcast in conjunction with coverage of last year's flooding.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

My Voice Nation Help
58 comments
xyzabc
xyzabc

I was on a plane that took off from Phoenix Sky Harbor enroute to DIA one evening about three years ago and actually witnessed a green laser flash the plane I was on.  About 2 minutes in the air when it happened.  Sitting in a window seat and BANG right in my eyes.  I wasn't blinded and I don't think I was injured, but it did surprise me and I wouldn't want to be busy DOING MY JOB - FLYING THE AIRPLANE with a couple hundred souls on board and have this happen.  I reported this to the flight crew, and was told they would document it.


 All of  you that think it's OK or no big deal, let your family or loved ones be on that plane and the pilot is distracted or blinded or whatever and it has a catastrophic accident and get back to me on that.

Nathan Embree
Nathan Embree

Everybody knows not to do it. What if the helicopter crashed into your house? Or what if he decides to do it to cars on the highway and kills someone? Don't break the law, and you won't go to jail. A lesson that all the people saying "fuck the police" obviously haven't learned.

Andrew Holdeman
Andrew Holdeman

Tyler Rierson I'd highly suggest you look into the damage a laser can do. To humans it can seriously and irreparably damage the human eye. To Electronics it can permanently damage the equipment as well. For your viewing pleasure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzyKLoEDb64

Michele May
Michele May

I work at DIA and although the layman (that would be you Tyler) don't hear about the everyday laser occurrences, they do happen. Maybe no planes have been brought down, but permanent and serious damage to pilots eyes have occurred. Is it not a valid law for you until someone dies?

Tyler Rierson
Tyler Rierson

How many planes/ helicopters have been brought down from a simple laser pointer?.... Oh wait none have.

Michele May
Michele May

Glad they caught him. This happens so often in Denver and to commercial passenger planes! Not only is he a menace to aviation safety but he's threatening the livelihood of the pilots he's targeting. Not cool! Total douchecanoe

Denisse Lomas
Denisse Lomas

Yet a cop abusing his daughter walks out free smh

David Andrew
David Andrew

It's a bit harsh. Hopefully they investigated if he had any motive? If not, he should get a lesser sentence IMO with a long probationary period. This why our jails are crowded.

Michael Gardner
Michael Gardner

He's lucky they didn't choke him out and make a lame excuse as how he died.

Molly Marie
Molly Marie

This was only a victimless crime because the pilot overcame the challenge of having a laser pointed at him. There are laws like these for a reason. Imagine if it had been a plane full of people? This idiot knew he was doing something wrong. Maybe 15 years is too much but he should be punished.

Brett Smith
Brett Smith

I would really like to hear what the judge ACTUALLY RULES in this case before giving an opinion or asking for one.

Joe Maldonado
Joe Maldonado

Haha Fuck the police they can kill you legally but God forbid you point a laser pointer at them

Melissa Trenaman
Melissa Trenaman

Yeah 15 years 290 some people on that plane make an example out of him

Brandon Beisel
Brandon Beisel

Ya 15 years for a victimless crime that sounds about right by out legal system and is completely fucked

Mike Duran
Mike Duran

Typical extreme sports douchebag, what a self righteous asshole. He's mad because he got caught, that's all. Hope he doesn't drop the soap.

gofastgo
gofastgo

Good.  Enough with the civil disobedience to this point.  No death penalty, or no carrying out of one anyway.  This guy deserves to be in prison, along with the others who think they are above the law.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Unless it was malicious, I think about 30 days in county should about cover it.

WrongMeansRight
WrongMeansRight

Until the police start taking responsibility for their own crimes, the public should be held to the same LOW standard....The guy didn't mean to cause any harm....Case closed....

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

The GoFast clowns are and have always been douchebags.


I recall a late night incident at a LoDo pizza joint where the drunken crew from GoFast started throwing drinks and metal napkin containers randomly across the dining room, crashing into walls and endangering the other peaceful patrons who were eating there.


Like a bunch of puerile monkeys.





RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

"the police helicopter, known as 'Air One,' was able to use equipment on board to identify the source of the laser pointer."


On the testimony of Air One, then, Finneman should be convicted.  On cross-examination however, Air One should be asked whether it identified him as being the person who aimed the laser pointer, or merely determined the location from which the laser emanated.  Unless there is evidence that establishes beyond reasonable doubt that Finneman aimed a laser at Air One, he should be acquitted.  Prosecutors either have such evidence or they don't; it should be a speedy trial.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... not if they point lasers at aircraft.

Hot.Sauce
Hot.Sauce

It's a federal offense, not state or county, moron.

gofastgo
gofastgo

@fishingblues And just what would you call pointing a blinding laser beam at a flying machine, other than malicious?  A harmless prank?  Kid stuff?  A firm talking to should suffice?  Tolerance run a muck.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase ... GUILTY as CHARGED !!


"Some friends of mine and I got together and we had a few drinks," Finneman said. "We had a cheap $8 laser pointer, and we were shining it at the buildings and various things."


He said they saw the chopper and wondered if the beam could reach it. He said he had no intention of hurting someone and was "just having fun." 


Finneman said he later learned that what he did could blind a pilot and cause a crash after the FBI knocked on his door about a month later.


"They said that it's possible, and I was shocked," Finneman said.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@gofastgo @fishingblues


I don't know his motivations, do you?

Could have been by accident, could have been one of those bone-head moves we all make from time to time.


I'm thinking 15 years  in the joint and $750K is a bit steep, don't you?   

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  They say that confession is good for the soul, and it might well carry more weight than the testimony of Air One.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase "They say that confession is good for the soul"



"Amendment 64 will prevent ~10,000 arrests for cannabis annually in Colorado" -- Robert Chase


"Granting the DOR regulatory authority over retail sales of cannabis is not bad at all" -- Robert Chase 


"There has been no fallout from having passed Amendment 64" -- Robert Chase


"Cannabis poses no threat to traffic safety" -- Robert Chase



Get thee to a confessional !!

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay 


Yeah, that really proves something you fucking imbecile.  


Stinky, grasping at straws because you have nothing.


AIDS is rotting your brain, boy.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay 


Those who have sex with animals, male children and the dead should not cast stones.  From which animal did you contract AIDS, you degenerate piece of shit?  

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  Yes; isn't it wonderful that passage of the Amendment caused arrests for cannabis to drop?  When are you going to start helping in the fight to end felonies?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  "They say that confession is good for the soul" 


"Amendment 64 will prevent ~10,000 arrests for cannabis annually in Colorado" -- Robert Chase


Granting the DOR regulatory authority over retail sales of cannabis is not bad at all" -- Robert Chase 


"There has been no fallout from having passed Amendment 64" -- Robert Chase


"Cannabis poses no threat to traffic safety" -- Robert Chase



Get On Your KNEES!

J85478
J85478

@DonkeyHotay

You post like an angry 12 year old with a thesaurus. Have your balls dropped yet?

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...