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Dysart Willis

North Carolina police officer demoted after lying incident

Most of our Raleigh readers have made the two-hour drive to Wilmington to enjoy that city's famed Riverwalk, beaches and many other amenities. The coastal gem has recently been in the news for false claims made by some of its police officers.

A Wilmington officer told a driver that it's illegal to use a phone to record police doing their jobs. There is no such North Carolina law, of course. The widely publicized incident gives readers a glimpse into how easily some law enforcement officials lie and improperly conduct searches.

According to a news report about an internal investigation by Wilmington police, the officer pulled over an Uber driver who began to record the interaction on his phone. When the officer noticed that he was being recorded, he told the driver that it's illegal to do that.

"Be careful because there is a new law," the officer told the driver in a video of the incident. "Turn it off or I'll take you to jail." Unbeknownst to the cop, the driver is a criminal defense attorney who was driving for Uber to help pay off student loans. So the driver knows something about what the law does and does not include.

The officer ordered the driver out of the car. A K-9 unit was called in and the car was searched.

The driver and his passenger were allowed to go when nothing was found.

The driver later said, "The full search of my vehicle and my person without my consent, based on a K-9 search that indicated absolutely nothing, are also a violation of my constitutional rights."

The officer has been demoted and had his pay reduced as a result.

Many observers are glad the driver is an attorney who stood up for his rights.

Unfortunately, many other innocent people who have been subjected to improper searches are not as familiar with the law.

You can discuss searches, seizures, arrests and charges you are facing with an experienced Raleigh criminal defense attorney who knows how to protect your rights and freedom.