A LAPD officer was partially blinded after someone intentionally pointed a green laser at him in downtown Los Angeles.
"I consider myself a pretty strong person, but those migraines brought me to tears," Officer Kyle Rice told the NBC4 I team.
Eric Leonard reports.
He said he had lost vision in his right eye, had debilitating headaches, and had problems balancing since he was hit by the laser beam on July 16.
"I have to lie down all the time and then I have to find out, you know, I can't stop being a father to my two girls or a husband to my wife," he said.
The laser attack came when Rice got a radio call near Second and San Pedro Streets in the Little Toyko area. He said he was dispatched to resolve a recurring dispute between a business owner and a homeless man who slept in the shop door.
Someone unrelated to the call pointed the laser at Rice from a fourth-floor balcony in a nearby apartment building.
"I just felt my right eye burn," said Rice.
Rice can no longer drive and said he saw medical specialists to find out the extent of the damage.
The neuro-ophtham logist at USC Keck Medicine, Dr. Kimberly Gokoffski, who does not treat Rice, said lasers can cause permanent damage to the retina, depending on the orientation of the beam, the power of the laser, and the length of time exposure.
"It just depends where the damage was done," she told the I-Team. "In the end, lasers are like looking into the sun, they are very dangerous to the eyes and unfortunately cause permanent damage."
Lasers have become a renewed problem for local police after they pose a known threat to helicopter and airplane pilots. During the recent protests in Portland, some people in the crowd of protesters aimed lasers at the faces of police officers.
Last week, the US Attorney's Office in Portland charged three men with alleged violent acts during protests, including a person suspected of laser shooting at officers trying to cause harm.
The LAPD has also addressed growing concerns that lasers are being used to obstruct the sight of LA officials. A new memo from Chief Michel Moore instructs officers to "try to" adjust their vision away from the laser "when it can be seen, and urges officers to try to de-escalate situations without the use of force.
Moore's memo also said officials would be given new types of eye protection.
Rice said he devoted his adult life to helping others and off-duty volunteers in a service group that advocates for people affected by homelessness.
"I love our department, I love our city," and he hoped that public discussion of his injury might help those who intend to cause harm and consider the possible consequences.
"I just hope that maybe we can drop that and really see that instead of hurting each other, maybe we should just start talking a little more."
A 45-year-old man who is suspected of aiming the laser at Rice was arrested by other officers and later released from prison. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said Thursday that it has not yet received any case information from the LAPD, so no criminal complaint has been filed.