Wilmington police address chaotic Wright Street incident caught on video

Wilmington police address chaotic Wright Street incident caught on video

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department on Monday said it has concluded its investigation into a chaotic incident last week on Wright Street involving two police officers that was caught on video and posted to social media.

Wilmington police say the incident happened at a home located at 420 Wright Street around 1:10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 17. A 911 caller claimed that a male subject had called him a racial slur and threatened him with a knife.

The video

A Facebook video of the incident shows two Wilmington police officers attempting to forcefully enter the home through a door while two men on the porch repeatedly ask the officers what is going on and why they were there.

WARNING: The video contains graphic language.

The female officer appears to shove the man recording the video, making him drop the camera, while walking to the front of the home. While the man recording the video was picking up the camera, another person can be heard screaming after the male officer apparently fired a taser through a broken window on the front door. The male officer then attempts to kick in the door but isn’t successful.

The cameraman continues to shout questions at the male officer, asking him what was going on and that he called the police about prostitutes in the neighborhood. The man recording the video then turns his attention to the female officer, who can be seen bleeding from the right arm, asking her for her name and what’s going on.

The female officer shouts “get off the porch now! Get away! Do not approach me!” to the cameraman. Moments later, the female officer yells for someone to get on the ground and runs off the porch. The male officer also pursues the unseen suspect, yelling for those on the porch to get out of his way.

A large police presence can be seen as the cameraman walks around the Wright Street home until he approaches a group of officers and appears to be arrested.

The video then ends.

The WPD’s response

A spokeswoman for the Wilmington Police Department responded to a WECT email about the incident, saying the agency was aware of the video and was “looking into the facts and circumstances of the case” and that “this is the busiest time of year for the police department, but we’re doing our best to get answers to you all as quickly as possible and we understand that the public is concerned about what’s shown in this video.”

A week later, the WPD issued a news release, detailing its account of the incident.

According to the news release, officers arrived at the Wright Street home and found Bryan Rivera-Cota, 27, and Jimmy Valimont, 37, on the front porch. An officer approached the front gate and asked who called 911.

“In the four minutes and 50 seconds Wilmington police were on scene prior to the start of the Facebook video, Rivera-Cota and Valimont were uncooperative, providing several conflicting answers to officers’ questions. Rivera-Cota showed clear signs of impairment,” the news release stated.

Police say Valimont told officers he may have called 911, but refused to provide any further information. The pair continued to say there were prostitutes at Fourth and Wright instead of providing information about the subject armed with a knife.

Bryan Rivera-Cota
Bryan Rivera-Cota (Source: New Hanover County Sheriff's Office)

Police say the male officer, acting with reasonable suspicion, attempted to open the front gate, at which time Rivera-Cota and Valimont became “violent.”

“The female officer on scene was hit in the head and had her arm pinned in a doorway. Her arm can be seen bleeding in the video. The male officer had his leg shut in the front gate and was pushed off the porch. The glass of the front door was broken during the struggle,” the news release stated.

While trying to arrest Rivera-Cota, the male officer fired his taser through the front door. Police say Rivera-Cota ran upstairs and jumped from a second-story window to the ground before running away.

Rivera-Cota was later arrested and taken into custody, where he “remained combative throughout his arrest.” Police say he set off a sprinkler at the New Hanover County Jail during “a mental episode.”

Rivera-Cota was eventually charged with resist/delay/obstruct public officers, two counts of assault on an officer inflicting serious injury, and molesting a fire system. He was given a $70,000 bond.

Valimont (mugshot not available) was also arrested and charged with resist/delay/obstruct public officers and was released from jail after posting a $250 bond.

Wilmington police officials say they’ve reached out to both Valimont and Rivera-Cota in the days after the incident but both have declined to speak to investigators.

Police say no formal complaints have been filed against any of the officers at the scene that night.

“We appreciate your patience as we’ve worked to find accurate and complete answers in regards to what occurred that night. Facebook video tends to tell one fraction of the whole story, and it takes time to reassemble the events around it. We will always make an effort to get the truth out to the public as soon as possible,” the news release stated.

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