Sex in cars: 'Django Unchained' actress, boyfriend charged with lewd conduct
Daniele Watts, an African-American, said she was “handcuffed and detained” by police when she was kissing her white partner in a public place in mid-September. The situation escalated when the Los Angeles Police Department’s responding officers asked for identification and she refused to comply. She claimed the officers mistakenly took them for a prostitute and her client.
According to one of the responding officers, the incident began over a report regarding “lewd acts in a car” outside a Studio City studio. Watts and her boyfriend Brian James Lucas matched the description. The couple adamantly denied any wrongdoing, with Watts repeatedly stating that she and Lucas were simply kissing in a car. When asked for her ID by the police, Watts made it clear she would not hand it over and ended up walking away from the scene.
As a result, police detained her and placed her in handcuffs. Eventually, the officers “determined that no crime had been committed” before releasing the couple.
However, a subsequent investigation into the incident and Watts’ allegations of racial discrimination uncovered that the couple was indeed having sex in the car. After listening to the LAPD audio of the events and various eyewitness accounts, and looking at photographs of the pair in the car ‒ including some of Watts straddling Lucas with her breasts exposed ‒ prosecutors decided to charge Watts and Lucas with lewd conduct, TMZ reported.
— TMZ (@TMZ) October 22, 2014
"We were sent a collection of evidence from law enforcement and after review, our prosecutors felt filing was appropriate," Los Angeles City Attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan told the New York Daily News.
Watts decried how the cops treated her at the scene, claiming she was targeted for her race.
“Do you know how many times I’ve been called, the cops have been called just for being black, because we’re black against white? I’m just being really honest,” a female voice attributed to Watts could be heard saying on the LAPD tape, acquired by TMZ. She also noted that she is an actress and threatened to leak the officer’s name to her publicist.
“I knew that I had done nothing wrong, that I wasn’t harming anyone, so I walked away,” Watts wrote on her Facebook account.
Lucas added his own public Facebook comments, saying he believed the officers mistakenly took his partner for a prostitute and himself for her client. He added that there might also have been a race factor as she is black and he is white.
“I could tell that whoever called on us [including the officers], saw a tatted RAWKer white boy and a hot bootie shorted black girl and thought we were a HO [prostitute] & a TRICK [client],” he wrote.
Lucas was recording the incident on his mobile phone. The photos on his account claim that the police handcuffed Watts “and threw her roughly into the back of the cop car until they could figure out who she was.” Watts was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, according to Lucas, who also posted pictures of Watts sobbing when she stood in front of a police officer.
“In the process of handcuffing her, they cut her wrist, which was truly NOT COOL!!!” he wrote.
Police, however, denied that the situation had anything to do with race. “Who brought up the race card?” an officer asked, according to the LAPD audio. “Why?"
The police department launched an investigation into Watts claims, and the resulting evidence against police profiling and racism led many prominent black leaders, including Project Islamic Hope President Najee Ali, Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson, to denounce her and call on her to apologize, LA Weekly reported..
The City Attorney's complaint, filed this morning, says that each person "did engage in lewd and dissolute conduct in a public place and in a place open to the public and exposed to public view."
The couple will be arraigned on November 13 for one charge each of misdemeanor lewd conduct. The crime of lewd conduct is punishable by a maximum of six months in LA County Jail and a fine of $1,000.