WISCONSIN (MEDIA GENERAL) — A situation that ended in an arrest in Wisconsin could have ended very differently on Monday night after a man pointed a laser pointer at an officer’s head from a distance.
“It was just a scary situation,” says Green Bay Police Chad Ramos.
That’s the only way Ramos can explain the situation his fellow officers faced, responding to a disturbance on West Mason and Tenth Streets.
Officers were dispatched for a report of people fighting and a gun being used to threaten someone.
They arrived to find witnesses, but no gun and no suspect.
Then, an already tense situation escalated.
“One of the other officers observes the fact that there’s a laser dot pointed on the back of one of our officers,” explains Ramos.
Through the fog, and in total darkness at 11 p.m., Ramos says a laser targeted the officer’s head repeatedly.
A witness and other officers say it turned off and on several times, keeping focus directly on that officer each time.
“He even describes it as though it starts at the lower part of his torso and works his way up, as if somebody is zoning or eyeing in their weapon at this officer, and that’s exactly what this officer that saw this laser was thinking. He thinks somebody is pointing a laser at a target location on an officer to engage him and shoot him,” says Ramos.
The officers took cover and followed the laser more than a block away.
They say they found Jeffrey Klopotic sitting on his porch, unwilling to tell them if he had a gun, the laser or both.
Court records show they noticed him hiding something shiny, and Klopotic fought with officers as they tried to arrest him.
Once in custody, they found no gun, only a laser pointer.
“It wouldn’t be unreasonable for an officer to be believe they were being targeted at that moment to be shot,” says Ramos.
We wanted to see how similar a laser pointer is to one on a gun. We bought one at an office store for about $25 and enlisted the help of Nelson Tactical in Green Bay.
“The laser light, when it’s adjusted to the aim of the gun, tells you where the bullet is going to impact when you pull the trigger,” explains Bill Galvin, a former Green Bay Police captain who now works for the gun shop on Velp Avenue.
Galvin showed us the difference.
The laser from his gun shows a small red dot on the chest of a dummy. The laser pointer we bought also shows a small red dot right next to it.
We asked Galvin if he could tell the difference.
“If that was me standing there, and I looked down, I would not be able to tell at all if one was attached to a gun or attached to a laser pointer,” he says.
While it’s legal to own a laser, it’s illegal to point one at an officer.
It’s one of three charges now filed against Klopotic.
Police are using the case to urge caution and restraint at a time when law enforcement is already on edge.
“When you hear that eight officers are shot in nine days, yeah, it’s certainly going to get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up a little more. People have got to be mindful of what they’re doing, and the decision to do such a thing. It could have ended tragically,” adds Ramos.