Django Unchained Actress to Cops: 'Is It Just Because I'm Black?'

An audio recording of an incident involving Django Unchained actress Danièle Watts and the LAPD was released on Monday.

Last week, Watts, a black actress, described an encounter with police in Los Angeles during which she was stopped and handcuffed on suspicion of being a prostitute. Watts said police officers assumed she was a prostitute simply because she was showing affection to her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, a white man. Watts said on Facebook she was detained for “refusing to agree that I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place.” (Lucas was identified as her husband when the story first broke. On the recording, Watts repeatedly refers to Lucas as her boyfriend. His Facebook page lists himself as in an “open relationship” with Watts.)

According to witnesses who spoke to TMZ, police were called to the scene because they saw the couple having sex in their car. Via the LAist:

Witnesses at the Directors Guild building across the street told TMZ that after Watts left CBS Studios around 2 p.m. on Sept. 11, they saw her and Lucas having sex in their car with the passenger seat door open. One witness said Watt was straddling Lucas in the car seat, and another told police that “they cleaned themselves up afterward with a tissue.”
Watts told BuzzFeed that they were fully clothed and merely kissing, and that’s why she refused to show officers her ID. Lucas wasn’t handcuffed because he had given his ID to the police immediately. Authorities later released the couple, saying in a release that “upon further investigation it was determined that no crime had been committed.”

According to CNN, the LAPD was responding to a call from a citizen reporting a couple having sex in a car:

An LAPD spokesman told CNN Sunday that officers from its North Hollywood precinct were responding to a citizen complaint. “There was an indication on the radio call that a male white and female black were involved in a sexual act inside a Mercedes with the vehicle door open,” Officer Sally Madera said.

On Monday, TMZ obtained the audio recording of the arrest. The officer can be heard interacting with Lucas in the beginning of the recording. Lucas is heard telling the officer he has her passport while Watts is heard talking on a phone in the background. Here’s the transcript, after the officer begins talk with Watts directly:

: Somebody called the police saying there was lewd acts in the car.

: There are no lewd acts in the car.

: It doesn’t matter, I have to ID you.

: We’re not doing anything.

: Somebody called.

: I’m on the phone with my dad. This is my boyfriend.

: Okay. I want to see your ID. Somebody called, which gives me the right to be here. So it gives me the right to identify you.

: You know how many times I’ve been called, the cops have called, just for being black? Is it just because I’m black and he’s white? I’m just being really honest sir.

: Who brought up a race card? Why?

: I’m bringing it up.

: I said nothing about race, I said nothing about you being black.

Watts: I have every right to be here.

: And I have every right to ask for your ID.

: And I have every right to say no, and if you’d like to demand it you can take me down to the courthouse and I can make a scene.

: No, you do not have a right to say no.

: I mean, I have a publicist, and I work as an actress at a studio.

: I’m [inaudible] interested –you have a publicist? — but I’m going to get your ID.

: No, I’m am going to say no. And if you’d like my ID you can say that I’m resisting arrest and you can [inaudible].

: There’s no resisting, you’re just interfering.

: And what I am saying is that I’ve not done anything wrong. I’m on the phone with my father. My step-mom is dying.

: You know what probable cause is? You know what probable cause is?

: Yes. And I have not. What is probable cause? I’m sitting here talking on the phone to my father.

The police officer continues to press Watts for her ID and she repeatedly tells him no. the officer then calls for a female officer to the scene.

Officer: I’m going to get your ID one way or the other.

Watts: That’s fine, you can do whatever you like.

Officer: Yes, I am.

At this point (1:35 on the recording), Watts is heard speaking on the phone to her father.

Officer: I can’t believe we’re bringing up the race card. I never hear that.

Watts: Daddy. Daddy, I can’t believe it. All the things that are happening with the cops right now I can’t make out with my boyfriend in front of my fucking studio [inaudible]. I don’t care about making a scene anymore I don’t have to give him my ID. Because it’s my right to sit on the fucking street and make out with my boyfriend. That’s my right.

Officer: Keep yelling, it really helps. It really helps.

Watts: My dad would like to talk with you.

Officer: No.

Watts: My father would like to talk with you [he’s on] speakerphone so here you go. Daddy, you’re on speaker phone.

[The audio of Watt’s father speaking on the phone is inaudible at this point]

Watts: He doesn’t want to hear, he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care, it doesn’t matter. You can call the cops on somebody and all of a sudden you’re a criminal. I’m just going to walk away.

The officer then has another exchange with Lucas, during which he tells him “just so you know, I’d already be gone.”

Watts was detained but released without charges. It should be noted that there is a lot more that happened during the incident than what can be heard on the two minute audio recording (available below) that was released. According to Buzzfeed, Lucas said the police kept wanting to know if he really had a relationship with her:

The police kept asking, “do you really know her?” He described their questions as being filled with “innuendo.” When asked what that meant, he said the questions seemed to imply that Watts was a prostitute and he was a client. Lucas said the police never explicitly said that was what they thought, but that was how he felt.

She told CNN she refused to hand over her ID because she felt it was a violation of her rights. “If I’m within my amendment rights, my constitutional rights to say no unless you’re charging me with a crime, I will not be giving you my ID,” she said. ” Black, white, all people have been fighting for these rights for freedom. It’s beyond race at this point.”

Image via Brian James Lucas’ Facebook.

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