LOS ANGELES — A crusade launched against the Los Angeles Police Department did not help “Django Unchained” actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend, celebrity chef Brian Lucas, avoid criminal charges.
According to TMZ, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed the charges this week after receiving various witness statements suggesting Watts and Lucas were having sex in her car outside CBS Studios and photos of Watts straddling her Lucas with her breasts exposed.
After the charges were filed, Watts and Lucas were scheduled for an arraignment on Nov. 13, for one charge each of misdemeanor lewd conduct. The crime is punishable by a maximum of six months in the Los Angeles County Jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
The African-American actress and her white boyfriend accused police of racism and unlawful imprisonment for questioning them in what they said was only a public display of affection.
When responding to the scene after receiving a complaint that “a white male and black female were involved in a sexual act inside a Mercedes” on Sept. 11, officers asked Watts for her identification. Legal experts later told CNN the officer had the right to request identification if he suspected illegal behavior. But audio of part of the encounter with police, published by TMZ, revealed that Watts did not believe so.
“Somebody called, which gives me the right to be here,” the officer, later identified as Sgt. Jim Parker, is heard saying to Watts. “So it gives me the right to identify you by law.”
“Do you know how many times the cops have been called just for being black?” Watts responded.
“Who brought up the race card?” Parker asked.
“I’m bringing it up because I have every right to be here,” Watts said.
Parker again asked for her ID, the actress responded, “You can take me down to the court office, and I can make a scene about it. And you know what? I have a publicist, and I work as an actor in this studio.”
Parker, who patrols a neighborhood home to many A-list celebs, including George Clooney and Miley Cyrus, seemed unmoved by the prospect.
“I’m mildly interested you have a publicist, but I’m going to get your ID,” he told Watts.
“No, I’m going to say no, and if you’d like my ID you can say that I’m resisting arrest,” she said.
“There’s no resisting, you’re just interfering,” Parker said. “I have probable cause; we received a radio call.”
Watts is then heard on the audio recording calling her father.
“I can’t make out with my boyfriend?” she is heard yelling. “I don’t have to give him my ID because it’s my right to sit on the f—— street corner and make out with my boyfriend. That’s my right.”
Watts was eventually handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. She was released a few minutes later when her boyfriend relented and gave the officer her ID.
Watts and Lucas then went on a public campaign against the LAPD, posting photos of the incident on social media accusing cops of racism and unlawful imprisonment on network TV.
“I was handcuffed and detained by 2 police officers from the Studio City Police Department after refusing to agree that I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place,” Watts wrote on Facebook.
Lucas suggested police “harassed” the couple because they thought Watts was a prostitute.
The evidence collected by law enforcement seems to, in the minds of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, render the accusations levied by Watts and Lucas baseless.
“We were sent a collection of evidence from law enforcement,” Los Angeles City Attorney spokesperson Frank Mateljan said. “And after review, our prosecutors felt filing charges was appropriate.”
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who initially rallied behind Watts and Lucas, have since said the couple “cried wolf” and should apologize.