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The police officer at the center of the brief detention of actress Daniele Watts is calling foul play over the LAPD’s internal affairs investigation of the incident.
LAPD Sgt. Jim Parker says that he and the two junior officers are being deprived of due process by being investigated without formal charges.
“It’s very frustrating to learn Watts never filed a complaint but the department started its own complaint and no allegations have been framed yet,'” Parker tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This is what our department has become under current leadership! It’s disgusting.”
In an email obtained by THR, the internal affairs investigator wrote to Parker: “While no official allegations have been framed yet, we are looking at the following: biased policing, conduct unbecoming (language, media), unlawful detention, unauthorized use of force (related to the alleged injury to Watts’ arm), negligence of duty, failure to notify supervisor of misconduct, complete thorough investigation, etc.). There could be additional allegations as interviews are completed and the investigation unfolds.”
Parker denies all the allegation, but tells THR that without formal charges, he and the other officers should not be interviewed for the investigations. The interviews are scheduled for late September and early October. He adds that proceeding without charging them is adding to the rising tensions between LAPD brass and rank-and-file officers. “It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks,” he adds, referring to the possibility of other charges being added.
“There is a culture of fear at LAPD to get out of your car and do your job because of the complaint system the department swings like a hammer at its officers. This has been going on for months,” Parker says. “There’s no one in the department who doesn’t believe that there needs to be a disciplinary system. But it needs to be fair and balanced for officers who do not have friends in the higher-command staff.”
The probe stems from a Sept. 11 incident in which Watts was detained and briefly handcuffed because she walked away from the police after refusing to identify herself. Police were responding to a call about a couple having sex in view of the public. A lewd act is a misdemeanor. Watts, an actress who appeared in Django Unchained and FX’s Partners, alleged via Facebook that she was the victim of racial profiling because she is black and her boyfriend is white. She said her race was the reason cops stopped her for prostitution. A media firestorm ensued, with commentators drawing connections to the standoff between police and protestors in Ferguson, Mo.
However, Parker tells THR he was responding to calls about public sex and that race had nothing to do with it. Later, pictures alleging to show Watts and her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, having sex surfaced on TMZ. After the pictures were published, civil rights activists called on Watts to apologize for “crying wolf.” Although she previously said she would hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit against the LAPD, Watts has not filed a formal complaint, according to Parker.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has confirmed an internal police probe into the matter and has not ruled out criminal misdemeanor charges against Watts and Lucas for lewdness. Beck has publicly supported the officers in the media for their actions, going so far as to commend them for recording the incident on personal recorders.
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“That’s in public. Instead of a phone call and a thank you or a pat on the back, these officers are being investigated, and they’ll have this racial bias charge on their file for the rest of their careers,” Parker says, adding that he has over 25 years of experience on the force. He says he is speaking out over concern for his two colleagues, who are relatively new.
When asked by THR what he thought would happen as a result of his voicing his frustration with the procedure, Parker says, “I’ll probably be relieved of duty.”
A spokesman for the LAPD could not immediately be reached for comment.
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