A Harnett County sheriff's deputy is on administrative leave and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has gotten involved after an incident caught on cellphone video earlier this month. The video shows two deputies tackling a teenager who was recording an arrest and then the girl's sister who was recording the officers wrestling her sibling to the ground.
The deputies were reportedly responding to a report of drug activity when they pulled over a vehicle. The 17-year-old driver was arrested for having a handgun under his seat. They say that one of the passengers was in possession of marijuana and that they smelled marijuana in the vehicle.
When the sisters, 14 and 17, began recording the arrest, two deputies took the 14-year-old's phone. The three ended up on the ground, with the girl's older sister continuing to record the deputies. She is heard on the tape repeatedly asking what her sister did wrong. She said, "You snatched her phone from her. That's her personal property."
The video ends when one of the deputies tackles the older sister recording the incident. She's heard saying, "I didn't do anything, sir. I did absolutely, I did nothing, sir."
The older girl told a local television station, "Seeing my little sister, she's 14, being tackled like that by a grown man, it was hard for me."
Neither girl was charged with any crime, and the deputies returned their phones. The older girl says she was told not to post the video anywhere. However, she posted it on Facebook because she felt it needed to be seen.
In North Carolina, it's legal to record police activity as long as you're in a public space and you aren't interfering with their law enforcement duties. They aren't allowed to confiscate or delete your recordings. However, it's important to remain polite and not to resist law enforcement officers.
North Carolina law enforcement agencies are not required to release dashcam or body cam video to the public. Therefore, if a person doesn't have a recording made by a private party of an arrest or other police encounter and wishes to see law enforcement video, they may have to go to court to gain access to it.
If you're facing criminal charges associated with recording law enforcement activity or if you believe that officers acted illegally in arresting you, it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance.