Uber Driver Told to Stop Filming Police
An attorney moonlighting as an Uber driver began filming police during a traffic stop in North Carolina, according to a recent article in the Washington Post by Peter Holley. Filming police is becoming a common practice nowadays to document interactions with law enforcement.
One of the officers ordered Jesse Bright to turn off his camera. He refused and cited his right to film police. The officer threatened to bring the attorney to jail, falsely informing him that a new law was recently passed preventing citizens from filming law enforcement. The officer then initiated a search of his vehicle to which the attorney did not consent. Bright and his passenger were eventually let go without further incident, after finding nothing incriminating.
Filming Police is Your Legal Right
The attorney released the video to the public as reinforcement that it is well within your rights to film police officers. The Wilmington Police Chief said that an internal investigation has been launched, adding “… we believe that public videos help to protect the police as well as our citizens and provide critical information during police and citizen interaction.”
• You have the right to record and photograph police unless you’re physically interfering with them performing their duties.
• You must be on public property, your own property, or if you’re on private property, you must have permission from the owner.
• Police can tell you to step back, but they cannot tell you to stop recording. They cannot order you to leave the area if other members of the public (without cameras) are allowed to stay.
• If you’re going to record police, do it in an open and obvious manner.
• Under the First Amendment, there are no circumstances under which the contents of a camera or recording device should be deleted or destroyed.
Fortunately for the attorney, he knew the laws and his rights, but some citizens may not be so knowledgeable – especially when a trusted officer of the law deceives them. That’s why it’s important to know your rights.
Consult With an Attorney
If you believe your rights have been violated by the police, the NH Lawyer Referral Service can assist you with a referral to a licensed and insured attorney who practices civil rights law. Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.