During a routine traffic stop on Feb, 26th in Wilmington, N.C., Uber driver Jesse Bright pulled out his phone and began filming. Wilmington police Sgt. Kenneth Becker told Bright to turn his phone off, that there was a new law prohibiting him from recording and if he pointed the camera at him Bright would be taken to jail.
Bright was driving for Uber to make some extra cash, but he works full-time as criminal defense attorney in North Carolina. As a lawyer, he said, he believes strongly that when people record their interactions with police, it helps reduce confusion if their cases end up in court.
Bright told The Washington Post that he knew better — no such law exists in North Carolina.
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said in a statement this week that his department has “launched an internal investigation” into the Feb. 26 incident
The Wilmington Police Department has launched an internal investigation regarding a recent video-tape of a February 26, 2017, interaction between one of our Police Sergeants and an Uber Driver. While we are not at liberty to discuss the investigation, we do believe it is crucial that we address a question that has surfaced as a result of that video-tape.
“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.” Chief Ralph Evangelous
A copy of this statement will be disseminated to every officer within the Wilmington Police Department.
New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon told ABC affiliate WWAY that after reviewing the video, it was clear that his deputy was incorrect and has been counseled.
The sheriff’s department said in a statement that “not only does the Sheriff agree that it is legal to record encounters, he invites citizens to do so.”
[Editor’ Note] While watching the video below, imagine if the driver was black, how differently this situation would have played out!