Cops just don’t get it. We’ve seen enough videos online of police attempting to stop a citizen from filming – only to be shut down by citizens. Once again, a video has surfaced showing North Carolina cops lie and attempt to intimidate a local attorney who was moonlighting as an Uber driver. Jesse Bright is an attorney who works in the same courthouse as the officers who stopped him. Out of his suit, they didn’t recognize him when they stopped him for being in the vicinity of a “known drug house.”
According to the cop, identified as Sgt. Kenneth Becker, leaving a known drug house is a valid reason for a stop. Bright’s passenger was taken to the house to pick up a paycheck, not drugs. On the return trip, they were stopped by New Hanover County police who were watching the house. Bright started to record the incident for his own protection, when Sgt Becker begins his assault on liberty. Becker tells Bright that “a new law” has been passed that prohibits people from filming police.
Bright stands his ground. As an attorney, he knew the law and saw the situation for what it was: a cop attempting to intimidate him into submission. “No, I’ll keep recording, it’s my right,” he tells Becker. At this point he begins to threaten him. “Be careful because there is a new law. Turn it off or I’ll take you to jail.” Becker proceeds to bluff Bright, who continues to refuse the cop’s attempts to have him exit the vehicle for an illegal search. “I know the law. I’m an attorney, so I would hope I know what the law is.”
Eventually, the cops get the K9 unit on scene, which is a constitutional violation as it is. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that if a K9 is not on scene at the time of the stop, an officer cannot request one to respond after the fact. The cops perform their illegal sweep of the vehicle, search it, and find nothing. Bright kept recording. After finding nothing, Bright and his passenger were allowed to leave.
Bright wasted no time in notifying the local media of what had happened. After the video went viral and made its way to Chief Ralph Evangelous, Evangelous made a statement to the press. “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.” Despite his admission that his officers were wrong, he advised they would not be disciplined, but would receive what is known as “counseling.” Counseling amounts to absolutely nothing in an officer’s career as far as discipline goes, and has no effect on future misconduct.
Who knows what would’ve happened if Bright had not recorded the incident. There’s a significant chance he would have ended up in jail, fighting to keep his career intact. A spokesman from the department told the press that every officer will be given information on how to treat citizens who film them.
Sources: The Free Thought Project.
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