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Published March 10, 2017

Wilmington Police Officer Lies On Camera, Ignores Rights Of Citizen

Jesse Bright is an attorney by day, but when police officer Sgt. Kenneth Becker pulled over this part-time Uber driver, he had no idea he was bullying and lying to someone who knows the law way better than him.

When Bright began innocently filming the police interaction, Sgt. Becker threatened, “Turn it off or I’m going to take you to jail.” Becker continued his warning, plainly stating that recording a police officer is against the law.

Hint: It’s NOT.

It’s never against the law to film a police officer. In fact, attorney Bright always recommends that his clients should record all police interactions, to protect their rights and ensure they are treated fairly.

“What is the law [I am breaking]?” asks Bright.

“Step out of the car,” Becker demands, pulling on the driver side door. Bright has done nothing illegal, but he is being asked to leave his vehicle.

“What are you arresting me for?” asks Bright.

“You’re being a jerk,” replies Becker.

What the actual hell? You can’t be arrested for being a jerk.

It’s disturbing that not only one, but two Wilmington, North Carolina police officers outright lied to a person they pulled over, then threatened to arrest him based on that lie. This is not acceptable.

Police carry guns and have the authority to take our freedom – so we damn well better be able to trust them 100%.

This outright lying and trampling of constitutional rights causes problems for the police-civilian relationship–even good police officers will suffer as a result. As citizens, we need to be able to trust the police. I am a law-abiding, upstanding citizen. I pay taxes; I donate to charity; I volunteer regularly; and I believe I do my part to help build a positive community. But even I fear police officers — and it’s because of incidents like this. I do appreciate that the Wilmington Police Department has made a statement and is conducting an investigation; however, I would feel much better seeing a statement of wrong-doing and apology directly from the officers who broke the public’s trust. I want to see an apology from the officers who perpetrated this falsehood. I want to see them disciplined, or maybe even fired–because if law-abiding citizens can’t trust our police, then we have a much bigger problem on our hands.

RELATED: Riot Police And Peaceful Protesters: A Die-in In Durham.

Bright did reach out to Becker to have an open discussion about the incident. According to Port City Daily, on Monday, February 27, Bright said he attempted to contact Sgt. Becker. “Wilmington PD gave me his number,” Bright said, “But once he realized who I was, he hung up on me.”

While we’re on the topic of “Good Cops” and “Bad Cops,” I did admire the one shining hope of this entire series of videos: Officer Pierre. While the initial two officers treated Bright like a criminal, and lied to trample his rights, Officer Pierre was respectful, kind, and attempted to explain why things were happening. Thank you, Officer Pierre, for proving there are plenty of police officers we can trust.

But honestly — we should be able to trust all officers. It’s a damn shame that incidents like this tarnish citizens’ faith in those who are meant to protect and serve. 

And, before I finally get to the video, I need to point out — this citizen happened to be privileged:

A man.

A white man.

A middle class white man.

A middle class educated white man.

A middle class educated white man who is an attorney and knows his rights.

A person less familiar with their rights could easily have become a victim to this police lying and bullying. I am a woman with very little legal education. I do know that recording an officer is legal, but to be honest, if a loud, angry, large man with a badge and gun started pointing at me and threatening to arrest me, I might well have put my camera away. I would have willingly given up my rights.

And if this had been a person of color? Well, one can only imagine.

Police Officers – I know there are many of you who are honest, hardworking, who truly want to protect in serve. Then please get these bullies and liars out of your ranks. You have to do better. We need to be able to trust you.

  1. Contact Wilmington’s Police Department and demand a personal apology from Sgt. Becker.
  2. Post on Wilmington Police Department’s Facebook
  3. Tweet to Wilmington Police Department
  4. Call Wilmington Police Department: (910) 343-3600

Tell them we deserve to trust our police officers.

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  • heather

    Heather

  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. My resume. All my articles.

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