When a police officer from North Carolina lied to an Uber driver about a new law in town, he had no idea that the man being dealt with was actually a criminal defense attorney.
It all started when Jesse Bright was pulled over by Sergeant Kenneth Becker who asked him to get out of his car so that it could be searched for drugs.
But as the lawyer turned on his dashcam to record the encounter, the officer told him not to film the incident.
When Bright argued that he was permitted by the law to record any interaction with an officer on duty, Becker replied: “Be careful because there is a new law. Turn off or I’ll take you to jail.”
The attorney, who was surprised to hear the officer lying, hit back and said: “For recording you? What is the law?”
To his astonishment, an accompanying officer also agreed and told Bright that a new state law has forbidden the filming of officers.
The impatient officers even called him a “jerk” before once again telling him to get out of the vehicle.
Bright later told WECT that the officers were deliberately lying, saying: “They should know, I’m sure they do know, that it’s legal to record police.”
Ralph Evangelous, from Wilmington Police Department, agreed and added: “Taking photographs and videos of people that are in plain sight, including the police, is your legal right.
“As a matter of fact we invite citizens to do so when they believe it is necessary. We believe that public videos help to protect the police as well as our citizens and provide critical information during police and citizen interaction.”
Bright further added: “I was mainly surprised because one of the officers who was there has had a trial in court with me and so he recognized me.
“I’d think that once they’d recognized that I was a trial lawyer they would’ve changed their tone and stopped violating my rights.”
Becker has since then demoted to corporal, which has reportedly cost him around $1.38 an hour.
The local police department said in a statement, “not only does the Sheriff agree that it is legal to record encounters, he invites citizens to do so.”