Django Unchained actress Danièle Watts made headlines this weekend after her Facebook post about being detained by the LAPD for “kissing while black” went viral. Now the police are striking back, with the help of their unofficial publicity arm (in this case), TMZ.
On Tuesday, TMZ released the police department’s audio recording of the incident, which it says exonerates LAPD Sergeant Jim Parker. In the clip, Parker tells Watts he’s received a complaint about Watts and partner Brian Lucas having sex in a car with the door open. Watts says they were only kissing, and refuses to hand over her I.D. The situation escalates from there, ending with those pictures of a handcuffed Watts breaking down in tears.
This is where things get tricky. In the audio, Watts clearly believes she’s not required to hand over her license, but since the state doesn’t have a Stop and Identify law, it’s an open question whether people in California have to provide identification while being questioned by police. The LAPD says detainees are required to identify themselves, but case law is vague on whether or not this includes handing over a physical I.D. (The ACLU recommends you do it, just in case.)
TMZ and officer Parker both accuse Watts of playing the “race card,” which is just the worst. Yes, Watts probably could have de-escalated the situation by handing over her I.D., but it’s a safe bet that a white actress wouldn’t have been put in her position in the first place.
UPDATE: TMZ also posted photos of the incident that led to an indecent exposure complaint. It ostensibly “LOOKS LIKE SEX,” but all we can make out for sure is that Watts is sitting on or standing over the person in the passenger seat, with the door still open.
A source who works in a nearbly office tells TMZ that Watts was straddling her husband and grinding on top of him with her shirt pulled up. He claims someone from the office went down and asked them to stop, then called the police when they continued.