Local News

Uber driver wants apology from Wilmington officer who lied about law

Posted March 13

— A Wilmington attorney and part-time Uber driver who was pulled over and told by police that it was against the law to record the interaction said he wants an apology.

Jesse Bright was pulled over earlier this month after he picked up a man who said he needed to pick up a check. He recorded the interaction with police on his cell phone, even though officers told him it was against the law, which is not true.

"I know the law. I'm an attorney, so I would hope I know the law," Bright said.

Bright said he tapes all encounters with officers, and advises his clients to do the same. Until then, he had never had a problem with it.

"I could see an officer asking you to turn the video off, but to fabricate a law like that is definitely surprising," he said.

Bright said drivers have a right to refuse unlawful orders.

"For him to come back and say it is against the law, and I will take you to jail is past the realm of what I would expect," he said.

Bright and the passenger cooperated and the officers searched them and the car. No one was arrested.

"The main thing I'll take away from this is that I want people to know that you do have the right to record police. More than that, you have the right to tell them no," Bright said.

The officers in the video were part of a joint city-county task force and they were doing surveillance on drug activity in the neighborhood.

The New Hanover County Sheriff and the Wilmington Police Chief both say it is a person's legal right to shoot video of an encounter with an officer, and in fact, they encourage it.

They said they have clarified the issue for their officers. The police department is also conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

Bright consulted with the American Civil Liberties Union, but he says this isn't about a lawsuit, all he really wants is an apology.

1 Comment

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  • Janet Ghumri Mar 13, 2017
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    I agree that it's a good idea to record interactions with authorities. In a case of he-said/ she-said the officers word carries more weight in the courtroom. We all need to play by the same rules