When Jesse Bright was pulled over by a police officer, the first thing he did was begin filming from his mobile phone.
Bright had been driving his car for Uber to make extra money, but he actually works as a criminal defense attorney in his state of North Carolina.
He says that as the lawyer that he is, he believe that people absolutely should record their interactions with authorities like police in case they end up in court, it can reduce confusion.
When he aimed his phone towards the officers and began recording, Bright was shocked to hear that the Wilmington police sergeant, Kenneth Becker, told him there is a new law in the state that made it illegal from recording officers of the law.
Bright said to The Washington Post that, of course, he knows that is not the case and that law doesn’t exist in the state.
“Hey, bud, turn that off, okay?” said Becker.
“No, I’ll keep recording, thank you,” responded Bright. “It’s my right.”
“Don’t record me,” said the sergeant. “You got me?”
“Look,” said Bright, “you’re a police officer on duty. I can record you.”
“Be careful because there is a new law,” said Becker. “Turn it off or I’ll take you to jail.”
“For recording you?” Bright asks Becker. “What is the law?”
Then a tension-filled exchange followed, and Becker told Bright to get out of his car, called him “a jerk,” and warned him he “better hope” they didn’t stumble across anything illegal in his car.
Bright went on to record, and said, “I know my rights.”
“I hope so,” Becker replied. “I know what the law is.”
“I know the law,” said Bright. “I’m an attorney, so I would hope I know what the law is.”
“And an Uber driver?” asked Becker.
Response and Investigation:
Bright said to The Post that he began working for the ride-sharing company to pay off some of his loans from law-school.
He had picked up a passenger who had gone into a house nearby and returned minutes later. After he returned, Bright was pulled over.
Officers then searched the passenger, telling Bright that he had brought his rider to a known drug house that had been under surveillance.
“They said I should have known it was a drug house, and I tried to tell them I was an Uber driver,” said Bright. “They thought it was some sort of cover.”
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous declared in a recent statement that the department “launched an internal investigation” into Bright’s incident.