Caught on Camera: Uber-driving attorney from viral 2017 traffic stop assaulted in parking lot brawl
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - For Wilmington attorney Jesse Bright, hitting the record button on his cell phone is almost second nature.
“I record everything. It’s nice to have evidence when things happen so it’s not just your word versus theirs,” Bright said. “It may be annoying to some people but I make about 100 videos a week.”
One of his prior videos went viral on Facebook in 2017. Bright’s cell phone camera was recording when he was pulled over by a Wilmington police officer who told Bright he was not allowed to record him because of a new state law. There is no such law in North Carolina.
On Thursday, Jan. 24, Bright’s girlfriend was the one clicking the record button while they were in the University Commons Shopping Center in Wilmington.
“My friends and my girlfriend came to a pool hall," Bright said. "When we first parked, a guy and a girl came to us that were standing in the parking lot. They asked if we had a problem with them standing there and we said, ‘No.’ It was strange.”
Bright and his friends went back into the pool hall. They came out 20 minutes later and noticed the same group of people were staring at them. That group pulled toward them in an SUV.
“That’s when I told my girlfriend to start recording just in case something happened,” said Bright. “The girl in the car yelled something and my friend laughed so I guess that peeved them and then next thing you know, one of the guys got out of the car and took his shirt off.”
Within minutes, a gaggle of people approached Bright, his girlfriend, Cat Flake, and their friend.
“I was just holding my phone, recording one of the men walking up and then he hit my hand so hard my phone flew out across the parking lot,” said Flake.
An exchange of words between the parties can be heard as the video is rolling. The people who walked up to Bright were yelling obscenities, Bright and his friends were telling them to go home, and they did not want to engage in a parking lot fight.
“Then in one motion, a guy decked me in the face, knocked me to the ground," Bright said. "I couldn’t move. He jumped on top of me. Then I was fighting him off for a few minutes.”
The video captured by Flake shows Bright on the ground and a parking lot scuffle that lasts about two minutes.
“After he was on the ground, I went and got my phone,” said Flake. “He was defenseless. I felt helpless and bad holding a camera, but I knew when it was happening he would want me to be recording.”
After the altercation, witnesses called police, and Bright was taken to the hospital for injuries to his face.
“I’m glad I got the video. Without that, the guy who assaulted me could say I walked up to him,” said Bright. “I don’t think we have room for that in society. I’d like for them to be caught and prosecuted.”
The Wilmington Police Department released a statement Monday about the incident:
WPD is investigating this incident to the fullest extent. We’re asking the public for help in identifying the suspects. Anyone with information is urged to come forward. They can remain anonymous by using Text A Tip or they can give us a call at 910.343.3609.
Bright said this incident will not stop him or his girlfriend from continuing to shoot videos.
“In this case, the police were able to get screenshots from the videos, close-ups of the people’s faces, the vehicle license plate, and assault happening," Flake said. "They have all the evidence they need.”
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