Nothing could be further from the truth, and Jesse Bright knew it. When police officers pulled him over recently in Wilmington, North Carolina, Bright complied. Then, he began to take out his phone and record the process. One of the officers, Sgt. Kenneth Becker, advised Bright that a new law had passed that stated he could not lawfully record him. Bright knew there was no such law and told the officer as much.
Not every driver is as familiar with the law as they could be, and if it had been any other driver, they might have taken Becker’s word for it. Not Bright, though. He knew full well there was no such law because he is an attorney. Bright was driving for Uber at the time to make extra money when he was pulled over by the officer. He had driven a passenger to a house per that passenger’s request. Bright was unaware the home had been under police surveillance for suspicious activity.
Bright continued to record the officer, increasingly annoying him by doing so. Becker threatened to throw Bright in jail if he continued. Bright continued anyway, stating he knew his rights, and the officer did not arrest him. Becker learned Bright was an attorney and initially thought it was just a cover. He eventually allowed both Bright and his passenger to go free once he realized they had done no wrong.
Bright advises the public to know your rights and stand your ground. He states, “If an officer gives you a lawful command and that command is disobeyed, they’ll arrest you,” Bright said. “The fact that I wasn’t arrested and he didn’t even try to arrest me is proof that he was being dishonest.” Bright decided to go public with his recording after his calls to the department were repeatedly ignored, and they never bothered to apologize to him personally.
The sheriff’s department did release a statement advising how they wanted the public to know “it is legal” to record an officer while on duty, and that they “invite the public to do so.” Still, it is unsettling to see that officers can and will say anything including a lie in order to get a civilian to obey their order. Officers are considered the law, but they forget they need to also obey the law themselves.
What would you have done if you were in Jesse Bright’s shoes? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.