LAPD Officer: 'Django Unchained' Actress "Is Lying"
Sgt. Jim Parker refutes the account of the actress, contending that he recorded the incident from the moment he got out of his car
The Los Angeles police officer involved in a confrontation with Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts is emphatically defending himself against any charges of wrongdoing.
"She is lying," LAPD Sgt. Jim Parker tells The Hollywood Reporter, contending the actress is making "malicious and false statements."
Watts, who is African-American, says the police accused her of prostitution because she was being publicly affectionate with her white boyfriend, Brian James Lucas.
“Today 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 her Facebook page on Thursday. "When the officer arrived, I was standing on the sidewalk by a tree. I was talking to my father on my cellphone. I knew that I had done nothing wrong, that I wasn’t harming anyone, so I walked away. A few minutes later, I was still talking to my dad when 2 different police officers accosted me and forced me into handcuffs," adding that her wrists were "bleeding in pain."
But Parker refutes Watts' account, saying he was already near the location to meet up with two other LAPD officers at Starbucks when he got a call about public nudity at the corner of Radford Avenue and Ventura Boulevard, near CBS Studios. Parker tells THR that he recorded the incident from the moment he got out of his car to when it ended.
"They were f—ing. He was in the passenger seat with his legs outside," Parker says, paraphrasing a call from someone at the Art Directors Guild office, complaining about employees watching a couple having sex in a car in broad daylight with the door open, complete with a description of the make and license plate of the car and description of the couple and what they were wearing. He says at least one witness took a photo. "People don't make this shit up."
Parker says he didn't plan on arresting the couple, who he says were no longer engaged in intercourse, and standing outside the car; she was on the phone. "People having sex in the car, no biggie. No one wants to arrest anybody," Parker says. "And he [Lucas] said, 'Oh, I have her passport.' He was wearing two tourist bags around his neck and I assumed he had hers. She was feigning disinterest, but I could tell she was listening in. Then as you hear on the recording, she starts making a fuss, and quite frankly I don't need to see her ID but she does have to ID herself."
The recording, which was made public by TMZ on Monday, features a woman's voice saying, "Do you know how many times the cops have been called because I'm black? Just because I'm black and he's white?" Later, she says, "You can say I'm resisting arrest," and put her father, who she was speaking with on her cellphone, on speaker to talk to the police, saying, "It's my right to stand on the street corner and make out with my boyfriend."
But cops say they were doing more than making out.
"There's no resisting; you're just interfering," a policeman is heard saying. LAPD sources tell THR that TMZ's recording is authentic.
Parker says he knew the other officers were nearby when Watts walked away from him as the situation escalated, but he didn't want to chase after her or physically confront her. "I've been here before, I'm not touching her. I don't want to be accused of anything. So I requested a female officer and said, 'Hey guys, grab that female on the phone and bring her back to me.'"
"I'm thinking, 'God, it's taking a long time to bring her back to me,' Parker continues. "They [two other officers] said, 'She's being difficult.' They have her handcuffed, because that's what they do. It's too far to walk, so they drove her back. And I said, 'You have to give me your ID or tell me your name.' She's crying."
Watts, who is also on the FX show Partners, told CNN on Monday that the LAPD "accosted me and forced me into handcuffs," and repeated what she had said on the recording, that the cops alleged "I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place." She also told CNN she felt disrespected when police asked Lucas for her ID instead of asking her directly.
"She had no idea I was recording. So I asked her, 'Why are you in handcuffs? He's [Lucas] been here this whole time not in handcuffs. Tell me if someone has been disrespectful,'" Parker says he asked the actress when she returned, handcuffed and distressed, adding that the recording exonerates the LAPD in this situation. "Police officers can record surreptitiously without consent. The other officers also had their recording on. It helps the police department."
The LAPD confirmed it is conducting an internal investigation because of the widespread publicity surrounding the incident. If he hadn't made the recording, Parker says, "The three of us would be relieved of duty right now."
Watts' agent did not immediately return an email for comment.