Daniele Watts has been in the middle of a yearlong court battle that has now ended. On September 11 of last year, the actress and her boyfriend were detained in Los Angeles after workers from a nearby office called to report a couple behaving in a lewd manner outside. The office workers claimed that Watts was topless and sitting on her boyfriend’s lap in the front seat of their car.
When police arrived, they immediately asked Watts and her boyfriend for identification, and she refused. In fact, she walked away from the scene completely. Two more officers caught her and handcuffed her down the street from the original location.
Watts was not handcuffed long because her boyfriend, Brian Lucas, handed over her identification to the police on scene. Police detained the pair that afternoon, and that was the start of their ordeal.
Lucas shared details of the incident on his Facebook after the rest, according to Us Magazine.
“From the questions that he asked me as D was already on her phone with her dad, 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 [prostitute and a client.] So they handcuffed her and threw her roughly into the back of the cop car until they could figure out who she was. In the process of handcuffing her, they cut her wrist, which was truly NOT COOL!!! Of course, they had to let her go eventually cuz we weren’t a threat to anyone.”
Watts shared a photo of her cut arm with her own account of the incident on her Facebook, as well.
Daniele Watts ordered to perform community service after insincere apology to officers http://t.co/B8b5fEJ3VV pic.twitter.com/8JUNcTPy0m
— Oakland Times (@OaklandTimes) August 30, 2015
Since that day in September, more has happened. The officer that responded to the call in Studio City that day, Sergeant Jim Parker, released the audio of the encounter, but this landed him in hot water with the Los Angeles Police Department. Watts accused him and his fellow officers of racial profiling, and this led to an investigation of the incident by Internal Affairs.
Parker spoke with The Wrap about the trouble the incident caused him. He said that, “I’ve been placed in what’s called the ‘penalty box.’ I can’t wear a uniform, I can’t be on patrol and I can have no civilian contact. I’ve got more charges against me than she has against her. I’m in shock at what happened to me.”
Parker fully expected to be fired from the police department, but he decided to retire instead. His retirement ended his 26-year-long career as a police officer.
In May, Washington Post reported that Watts and Lucas plead no contest to a charge of disturbing the peace. The case would end without a sentence if Watts wrote an apology letter to the three police that detained her last year.
Watts submitted her first apology letter to the judge on August 6, and it was not good enough. The judge asked for a second apology letter, and she submitted that letter on August 26. The Los Angeles Times has images of both of the letters written by Daniele Watts.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the judge called the first letter “defiant and accusatory.”
“Hopefully you can forgive the fact that my heightened emotions disturbed what might have otherwise been a carefree stop on your way to a nice cup of coffee. With all the recent news coverage on the issue of biased policing, we probably all have a clearer understanding of the subtle – and often bizarre – ways that racial conflict continues to haunt many people in America. Sgt. Parker, when you said sarcastically, ‘Thank you for bringing up the race card, I never hear that,’ I felt provoked because I had previously encountered many disheartening experiences related to ‘being black’ both in my personal life, and as reflected in society overall.”
The second letter was called “insincere and passive aggressive.” The judge did not give Watts a third attempt at the letter. Instead, Watts and her boyfriend were handed a 15-hour community service sentence.
Watts did speak about the sentence after it was handed out, and she admits that she could have handled the situation differently.
“[I am] thankful for the entire experience. I felt like I did the best I could throughout the process. No, it wasn’t perfect by certain standards. But I did my best to come from my heart and share things that I think could benefit a larger conversation. I lost my cool. I could have been more kind to the officer — and I get punished for that. I get punished because they don’t believe my apology.”
It is not known when Daniele Watts and Brian Lucas will carry out their community service. It is also not known if Watts will continue to pursue any more action against the Los Angeles Police Department. Watts is best known for her role in Django Unchained.
What do you think of Daniele Watts’ sentence? Do you find it fair?
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]