St. Pete assistant chief temporarily blinded by laser

- Officers in St. Pete have arrested a man they say temporarily blinded the assistant chief of police with a laser pointer.

Assistant Chief Jim Previtera was driving an unmarked police vehicle northbound on the 5600 block of 4th Street N when a bright blue flash blinded him.  Police say the flash came from a parked vehicle nearby.

Previtera and other patrol units made contact with the driver of that car and determined he had pointed a laser at Previtera's vehicle.

David Smith, 42, was arrested and charged with misuse of a laser lighting device, a third-degree felony.

"Later at the St. Petersburg Police Department, to demonstrate the power of the seized device, the laser was pointed at a paper bag and it started the paper bag on fire," a police press release stated.

Officers say Previtera's vision was impaired for approximately 30 minutes after the incident.

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