Photo via Twitter @SanDiegoPD.

A man who aimed a laser pointer at a San Diego police helicopter during a protest faces a maximum prison sentence of five years following his conviction, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

A jury found Rudy Alvarez, 25, of Lemon Grove, guilty late Wednesday for shining a laser at the SDPD chopper around 8:30 p.m. June 4 in the area of Fifth and University avenues.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Alvarez shined the laser at the chopper multiple times over the course of an hour as he marched with protesters through San Diego.

The count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The court scheduled his sentencing for Feb. 22.

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer called the result “a very important verdict” and said “this kind of crime could have a disastrous impact if a pilot’s sight is compromised. We support the Constitutional rights of free speech and assembly, but the rule of law must be respected. It’s there for a reason – to protect the public and law enforcement from danger.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also charged San Diego resident Stephen Glenn McLeod with the same count for allegedly directing a laser at a San Diego police chopper multiple times during a protest on Aug. 28.

His case remains pending with a trial-setting hearing slated for Dec. 18.

– City News Service