Attorney Jesse Bright, who works as an Uber driver in his spare time. He was on a round trip drive with a fare when he was pulled over by police.
Wilmington, NC — A powerful video, taken by an attorney while being harassed by police, illustrates the power of filming — and why cops will lie through their teeth, apply intimidation tactics, and threaten you to get you to stop it.
Attorney Jesse Bright, who works as an Uber driver in his spare time, was on a round trip drive, bringing a man who works as a pet groomer to pick up his paycheck on Feb. 26. During the first Uber stop, police suddenly surrounded the vehicle and forced the passenger to submit to a search because they were near a known “drug house.”
For his safety and to account for the officers’ actions, Bright began filming. When Sergeant Kenneth Becker saw that he was recording, that’s when the lies, threats, and intimidation began.
Officer: Hey bud, turn that off, OK?
Bright: No, I’ll keep recording. Thank you. It’s my right.
Officer: Don’t record me. You got me?
Bright: Look, you’re a police officer on duty. I can record you.
Becker then walks to driver’s side of vehicle to escalate the level of intimidation.
Officer: Be careful because there is a new law. Turn it off or I’ll take you to jail.
Bright: For recording you? What is the law?
Officer: Step out of the car.
Bright: What are you arresting me for? I’m sitting here in my car. I’m just recording in case anything happens. I’m surrounded by five police officers.
Officer: You’re being a jerk.
Bright: I’m scared right now. I’m not being a jerk. I’m recording in case anything happens.
Officer: You better hope we don’t find something in your car?
Bright: You’re not searching my car?
Officer: I’m going to search your car.
Bright: You’re not searching my car.
To apply yet another level of intimidation on a man for the sole reason that he was asserting his rights, this belligerent cops then calls for a K-9 unit.
Bright: Bring the K-9s. I don’t care. I know my rights.
Officer: I hope so. I know what the law is.
Bright: I know the law. I’m an attorney, so I would hope I know what the law is.
Officer: And an Uber driver?
The cops couldn’t believe that an attorney could also work in his spare time to earn extra money.
For the next several minutes, the cops teamed up on Bright and continued their intimidation. However, Bright did not back down.
While the video was rolling, Bright held all the power and the cops knew this — thus, the reason for them trying to force him to stop filming. Finally, the cops, without Bright’s consent, intimidated him to the point where he was unlawfully coerced into conceding to a search. According to Bright, they falsely claimed their K9 alerted to the car and proceeded to get back at him for asserting his right and embarrassing them. The video also confirms this, since the dog never stopped or ‘alerted’ to anything.
As the Free Thought Project has pointed out many times before, cops falsely claim their dogs alert to substances all the time. After they claimed the dog ‘alerted’, the belligerent cop then made a snide remark about the false alert.
“Funny how he’s real interested in your car, huh?” says the cop as the dog seems to only be interested in the toy his handler has.
“How’s that funny?” asks Bright as he points out this unprofessional officer’s conduct.
On Wednesday, Bright sent an email to WECT, explaining the situation.
At that time, the K-9 unit arrived at scene. I repeatedly asked the Sergeant and the K-9 what the dog’s indicator was, to indicate that he smelled narcotics in the vehicle. They refused to tell me. The K-9 lead the dog around my car 1 time, in which the dog did nothing but sniff the vehicle. He didn’t seem to make any indication at all towards the vehicle, besides sniffing in the places that the K-9 told him to sniff. After the sniff was done, the Sgt immediately went into my vehicle without my permission, and did a full search, checking all areas of the car, and pulling everything out of the center console and glove box. During the search, I was told I had to let them search my body as well, which they did. He found absolutely nothing illegal in my vehicle, or my person, and eventually walked back to his car. Another officer told me that me and my Uber passenger were free to go.
Chief Ralph Evangelous issued the following statement Wednesday in response to the videos:
“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.”
However, as the video below shows, his officers apparently do not feel the same way.
The office then released another statement noting that the lying and bullying cops were wrong, but will not be punished and, instead, received ‘counseling’ — for being utterly derelict and oppressive.
According to WECT, Lt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said there is no internal investigation in that department because their deputy did not violate anything.
Sheriff McMahon has viewed the Uber driver’s video and believes it is clear that Officers were incorrect in stating that it was illegal to record the encounter. Not only does the Sheriff agree that it is legal to record encounters, he invites citizens to do so. As a result, the Deputy involved has been counseled.
Additionally, in keeping with Sheriff McMahon’s practice of openness and transparency with the citizens that we serve, he has instructed his Staff to ensure that each Deputy has been provided with information about the citizen’s right to record encounters with law enforcement officers.
And just like that, cops can be filmed in a blatant act of intimidation and oppression, caught lying through their teeth — and nothing happens. Sadly, people still wonder why there are protests. Had Bright not pulled out his camera and filmed, this situation could have gone far worse.