|Photography is not a crime.|
An Uber driver outsmarted a Wilmington, NC police officer. The officer was caught on camera telling the driver that it's against North Carolina law to record police. Unbeknownst to the officer, the driver was a lawyer and he "sonned" him.
Now the officer will face a disciplinary hearing. Jesse Bright, a lawyer who practices in criminal law was pulled over after the officer observed him coming from an area know to have drug activity.
Bright shared his February encounter with the junk food media. Bright began recording the officer on his cellphone. He was pulled over after picking up an Uber rider.
Bright and the passenger was asked to exit the vehicle and be submitted to a search. When the officer saw that bright was recording the encounter, the officer got in his face.
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."
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 ar. I'm just recording in case anything happens. I'm surrounded by five 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 anything in your car."
Bright told the officer he doesn't consent to his car being searched. Bright refused to exit his vehicle and kept his door locked. The officer tried to pulled the door open. By that time, he called for a K9 unit and the officer and the K9 unit searched the vehicle. The officers didn't find nothing in the vehicle and Bright was free to continue on his way.
Well this encounter reached the police chief. Ralph Evangelous, the chief of the Wilmington Police was annoyed by the junk food media. He didn't expect to caught in a scandal involving his officers.
Matter of fact, I bet he told his officers to do what ever it takes to get the "bad guy."
He did a simple cop out.
"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 interactions," said Evangelous.
The sheriff of New Hanover County also spoke on the matter.
"Sheriff Ed McMahon ... believe it is clear that officers were incorrect in stating that it was illegal to record the encounter," Lt. Jason August wrote. "Not only does the Sheriff agree that it is legal to record encounters, he invites citizens to do so."
Photography is not a crime.
We are allowed to film public servants. They are getting our taxpayer dollars to serve under the badge. You are protected under the Constitution for unlawful arrest, search and seizure of your property, or the right to a speedy trial.
I refuse to be bullied by the man (or woman) wearing the badge. I do not consent to searches of my vehicle. I do not speak about where I go or where I've been. I do not want to be "friends" with a cop who pulled me over. I am not going to self-incriminate myself into a cop's order.
I will not open my door to any police officer without a warrant.
Take extreme caution if the law shows up at your door for a 6am "NO KNOCK". Do not reach for anything. If they authorize lawful entry into your home during a "No KNOCK", you have a right to question the arrest or entry. If you are an owner of firearms, be extremely careful not to fire upon an arresting officer especially if they're saying they are saying "POLICE".
The U.S. Marshals, the FBI and the local police do acknowledge their presence.
If you are treated wrong by an officer, you have the right to ask for their supervisor. You have a right to say to an officer, "Am I free to go?" if you are cited and they want to authorize a search of your vehicle. You have a right to have a dash camera in your vehicle as long as it is not a distraction to your driving. You being issued a ticket isn't an admission of guilt, it's an acknowledgement of a traffic/misdemeanor offense that you can challenge in a public court. You have the right to contest a citation. If found guilty of a traffic offense, you will get points on your license. Your insurance company will be notified of the court decision. You may pay a higher deductible if you're found guilty of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, fleeing the scene of an accident and willfully eluding a police officer (during a pullover or arrest).