War on Cameras

Cops Told This Uber Driver It's Illegal to Film Them. Surprise, He's a Lawyer.

Wilmington (N.C.) police imagined a 'new law' prohibiting recording police in public during a traffic stop.


Who's Fourth Amendment is it anyway?
Jesse Bright

Jesse Bright was driving an Uber customer in Wilmington, North Carolina last month when he was stopped by police. His passenger was ordered from the car and searched on suspicion of drug violations. Bright decided to turn on his camera and record whatever might happen next.

But the officers on the scene did not take kindly to being filmed, with one officer telling Bright, "Be careful because there is a new law. Turn it off or I'll take you to jail." Bright demanded to know what new law the officer was speaking of, but instead he was ordered out of the car.

Bright replied, "What are you arresting me for? I'm sitting here in my car. I'm just recording in case anything happens. I'm surrounded by five police officers." Bright also admitted to being scared, but the officer told him "you're being a jerk" and threatened to search his car. To that, Bright said plainly, "you're not searching my car" and informed the officers that in addition to driving an Uber, he was an attorney and well aware of the law and his rights.

Unfortunately, the officers searched Bright's car and his person anyway, finding nothing and eventually letting both him and his passenger go on their way. But Bright tells WECT his constitutional rights were violated, which appears to be confirmed by statements from senior officers.

A spokesman with the Wilmington PD confirmed to WECT that no "new law" prohibiting the recording of police in public exists, and that the department does not instruct its officers to tell citizens that it is illegal to record them.

Wilmington's Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said in a statement (per WECT):

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.

Because a deputy with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department was also involved in the traffic stop, the Sheriff's office also released a statement reiterating the legality of recording police officers in public.

Sheriff [Ed] McMahon has viewed the Uber driver's video and believes it is clear that officers were incorrect in stating that it was illegal to record the encounter. Not only does the Sheriff agree that it is legal to record encounters, he invites citizens to do so. As a result, the Deputy involved has been counseled.

Additionally, in keeping with Sheriff McMahon's practice of openness and transparency with the citizens that we serve, he has instructed his Staff to ensure that each Deputy has been provided with information about the citizen's right to record encounters with law enforcement officers.

Watch video of Bright's unconstitutional stop below:

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  1. That guy is lucky he’s still breathing without the aid of machines.

    1. Why? Do most traffic stops end in violence?

      1. Enough to be worried about it, pig-fucker.

    2. Cops are lucky he does not sue them for civil rights violations based on Rodriguez v. US (2015) 575 US _____ .
      Police may not extend the seizure of the traffic beyond the time it takes for the original stop. In this case, he didn’t commit a traffic offense ans was stopped because of who he picked up and from where.

      Then the driver gets his registration and license back but he is still not free to leave until the K-9 gets there.

      These police should all be fired for violating the Constitution and clearly established law.

  2. I definitely believed what happened next.

  3. The time to argue isn’t against a cop, it’s against a judge. You’ll lose everytime. He’s lucky to leave walking

    1. so what you’re really saying is

      thugs gotta thug

    2. Nope. He was “lucky” to know his rights. Now he has evidence that they were violated.

      1. Now he has evidence that they were violated

        That and three bucks will get him a cup of coffee.


    3. The time to argue isn’t against a cop, it’s against a judge. You’ll lose everytime.

      Argue is a bit divisive. One can disagree with the officer’s statements and/or assert facts without violating or refusing to comply with the officer’s orders.

      I don’t see how arguing with a cop would be dramatically better or worse than being forced to argue in front of a judge while the video of cops putting words in your mouth (or freely able to anyway) plays out.

    4. So you have to wait until your rights are violated to defend them?

      I understand that that might be the practical thing to do to protect your own ass. But people who stand up to cops like this deserve encouragement and praise. The only reason they can get away with shit like this is that most people don’t assert their rights like that. No one should ever just passively allow a cop to search them. They will likely do it anyway, but make it clear that you have not given them consent to do so.

      Cops can be arbitrarily violent. And that’s good reason to avoid contact with them in the first place. But people need to stand up to them when they pull shit like this or it only gets worse.

      Of course, what is really needed is criminal penalties for cops who blatantly make shit up and violate constitutionally protected rights like this. But that’s up to legislatures, not judges.

      1. This cop told a lie to engage in an illegal search. He should be fired.

        How about zero-tolerance for shit like that?


        2. Well, obviously that should happen too. As you may have noticed, I went a step further than that and called for criminal penalties for cops who do stuff like this. My gut tells me the appropriate penalty would be a good old woodchippering.

          1. In this case the wood chipper in question would have it’s work cut out for it. Those cops were chunky. Which seems to be ever more common these days.

            Why are cops getting so fucking fat anymore?

            1. actually i think the fat works out to help the chipper. Its like a grease to keep the blades sharp.

        3. not just fired but thrown in jail. If i lie i go to jail. This cop maliciously and knowingly violated a mans natural rights.

      2. 100% agree. The only way to stop this is to fire the cop and charge him witha felony of violating a citizens natural rights.

        We need a criminal code for this.

      3. It’s already illegal, the problem is the prosecutors are cop suckers and let it slide.

        Sounds like a job for Wood Chipper.

  4. So all of the officers involved in this incident have been relieved of their duties, correct? Making false statements, an unconstitutional search (even after it was pointed out to them by a lawyer that it was unconstitutional), making terroristic threats (threatening to falsely imprison someone for not capitulating), all caught on video. Surely that is enough for termination.

    1. The lawyer seems like he needs some extra cash. He should file a civil rights lawsuit.

    2. It says they were counseled. Which is cop speak for your boss telling you to remember to destroy the phone next time.

    3. Should be enough for some prison time.

    4. I could be wrong but I dont think having a dog sniff the outside of your vehicle is considered a search from the needing probable cause/warrant standpoint. So technically that cop did nothing wrong other than being a lying, powere tripping scumbag that doesnt think he should be subject to the scrutiny of a camera.

      I agree that if police officers in general wanted to maintain the integrity of their jobs and to regain reapect, they and their union should be the first entity calling for the officer who lied to be relieved of duty

      1. Technically, you’re right but the problem comes when the dog alerts. It’s so easy to teach an indication behavior when there is nothing there that even a cop could do it. There are also several ways to indicate from jumping on something, scratching, nosing or barking to just sitting and waiting. Which indication behaviors are used for real drugs and which are cued by a word, movement or noise by the cop for a particular? Once the dog alerts whether it’s a genuine alert or a cued alert from the cop, the car gets searched.

        1. Using K-9 to force a search after the driver does not give consent is a police racket and the knuckleheads on the SCOTUS fall for it every time. I doubt the justices ever watch video of confrontations with police. They should, so they would stop giving police power and benefit of the doubt that is not authorized in the Constitution.

      2. See Rodriguez v. US (2015) 575 US _____. The police violated clearly established law by keeping the driver past the reasonable period for the initial stop. Its a 4th Amendment violation of your civil rights.

  5. “Tee hee hee we told those chuckleheads they could be filmed then gave em a noogie and sent them on their way with a pat on the butt”.

    That’ll teach those pigs, right? I mean, just having to be told in front of the other pigs was punishment enough. No one will ever hear another peep about this, just like the last 4 million anal rapings by these sacks of putrid shit with badges pinned on them.

  6. Nothing short of passing the bar exam provides any sort of protection from the dogs with guns.

    1. Okay, two things. 1., that is hella insulting to most dogs, and b. the dude got pulled and frisked and generally hassled and presumably had his day thoroughly disrupted by some power-tripping goons despite knowing the law as a professional practitioner.

      1. and the average joe gets murdered.

  7. “unconstitutional stop”

    Looks like most stops that I’ve been a part of.

    1. Maybe you should quit pulling people over, then.

  8. Sheriff [Ed] McMahon

    So when New Hanover County settles with the guy, are they going to hand him an oversized check and a bunch of balloons?

      1. Heh, heh, heh………YES!!!!!!! HOHOHO!!!!!!

    1. Somebody on the video editing crew at Reason (if such a thing still exists) should remix the whole video with the cartoon painter’s crew intro/outro.

  9. Following the many examples set by President Pud these officers LIED THROUGH THEIR TEETH.

    1. President Pud

      New screenname and political outlook, Mikey?

  10. An obvious lack of funding of the police and sheriffs’ departments.
    They need another gazillion taxpayer dollars to train their troops in proper traffic stops.
    Also, the video pointed out the fact it takes a lot more education and folds in your brain to be a lawyer than to be a cop.

  11. This is why if we are going to have a death penalty it should be saved for agents of the state who violate people’s rights. A few public hangings of cops who pull shit like this should send the right message.

    1. agreed. I don’t think thee is any crime worse than state employees abusing power. Especially murder people on video.

      Fucking LA cop

  12. Did the heros make it safely home at the end of their shift!?!
    ’cause I’ve come to understand, that’s the ONLY thing that matters.

    The young lawyer is so lucky he wasn’t raped into submission, for being so contemptuous of the officer.

    Obviously, he was absent the day his law school went over the FYTW chapter in constitutional law.

    1. He was white so it’s all good.

  13. …wait! And nothing happened?

    The head cops said what happened was wrong. Momma told me there should be consequences for doing wrong. Really it was more than wrong, it was a violation of rights under color of law. Ima thinking if any of us did that they would be arrested and tried.

    1. “Bad Cop, No Donut!” is about all they’re going to get.

  14. Didn’t the Nazgul recently say extending a traffic stop in order to bring in a FYTW dog nose unconstitutional?

    Or is that supposedly inapplicable since it wasn’t a traffic stop as it was the passenger they were after.

  15. Take notice… not one of these “good cops” I hear of, of 5 cops on the scene, defended this man’s rights and the actual law. Good cops do NOT exist.

    1. The good cops can be identified as follows:

      They are the ones riding unicorns!

    2. The absolute worst cops are the ones that everyday, know full well some of their co-workers are violating the Hell out of citizens rights, but do nothing about it. They are worse than the ones doing the initial violating.

  16. Say with a German accent: Papers please.

    1. Say it with an American accent: Fuck off, slaver!

  17. Just curious, why is an attorney working as an Uber driver? Not to discount this guy’s bravery or legal expertise (kudos for standing up to The Man), but I would imagine most lawyers are too busy to pick up second or third jobs (especially at Uber). Even public defenders can’t afford to take double shifts as on-call chauffeurs, and they’re the ones who need a second job the most.

    1. Some lawyers are between jobs. Driving Uber is great if you’re in the right city.

  18. Any cop that violates a citizens rights should be fired ASAP. If these morons can’t protect our rights they have no business being in law enforcement.

    1. They should be fined and jailed.

  19. I was all prepared to be outraged but it looks like the direct superiors of those who made the mistakes are taking the right approach. Even police are only human, and they make mistakes and exercise poor judgement. It’s not a large scale problem unless those in authority compound it by covering it up or pretending it’s acceptable.

    1. /sarc….right…./sarc????

      sadly your serious :/

  20. Those are the friendliest cops I have ever seen in my life.

  21. As always in these situations, I hope that the man the cops have fucked with on this occasion will refuse any settlement that allows them to remain on the taxpayers’ payroll. With attitudes like that, they’re a pack of wrongful death lawsuits waiting to happen.


  22. I would wager that if you asked the general population to take sides after watching this video, 80% would take the side of the cop. We revere authority.

    This is much more scary than issues about the cops’ competence.

  23. You will notice neither of the leaders addressed the illegal search. It was easier to placate local journalists with promises of retraining.

  24. I was mainly surprised because one of the officers who was there has had a trial in court with me and so he recognized me,” he said. “I’d think that once they’d recognized that I was a trial lawyer they would’ve changed their tone and stopped violating my rights.”

    Arrogant mixed with stupid. Right now it looks like the arrogance was justified, as no consequences were meted out. But a trial lawyer can very easily make a cop’s life difficult, and this case is likely not over. Stupid.

    1. During his interactions with Becker, Bright also asked a New Hanover County sheriff’s deputy at the scene to tell him whether a new law had, in fact, been passed that would prohibit him from recording police.

      “I’ve never heard of this law that you’re not allowed to record the police anymore ? it must be brand new,” Bright said.

      “Well, they just recently passed it,” the deputy responded.

      “Like super recently?” Bright asked. “It seems like a strange law.”

      Poor second deputy, he did his best to not lie and not throw his colleague under the bus.

      1. Thin Blue lie at its worst.

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