SANDY COHEN, AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police said Monday they followed proper protocol when they demanded identification from an actress and her boyfriend while investigating a 911 call alleging lewd conduct in a parked car.
Actress Daniele Watts, who appeared in “Django Unchained,” says she was unjustly handcuffed and detained Thursday after refusing to provide identification and walking away from officers responding to a report of lewd conduct in a car along Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.
Watts said in an interview Monday that she and her boyfriend, Brian Lucas, were kissing in the car and fully clothed, with nothing improper going on.
She and Lucas wrote about the incident on Facebook and posted photos of a crying Watts in handcuffs. Lucas said he suspects that onlookers assumed Watts to be a prostitute and him a client because she is black and he is white.
Los Angeles police Lt. Andrew Neiman said citizens are required to identify themselves if requested to do so by an officer who has reasonable suspicion to believe an offense may have been committed.
In this case, he said, reasonable suspicion was created by the 911 call, and Watts and Lucas fit the description and location described by the caller.
Celebrity website TMZ posted audio of the exchange between Watts and police. Neiman and Bill McCoy, a spokesman for the couple, say the audio is authentic, though its origin is unknown.
On the recording, a police sergeant is heard telling Watts, “Somebody called, which gives me the right to be here, so it gives me the right to identify you by law.”
Watts can be heard responding in frustration. She was detained until police determined no crime was committed.
Neiman said it is unlikely that a recording of the 911 call will be made public. The results of the LAPD’s internal investigation of the matter, which could take several months, are also unlikely to be released, he said.
Watts said the officer’s demeanor was an emotional trigger for her because of personal and historical experiences of racial profiling by police.
“He was not abusive,” she said. “He was not overtly racist.”
She said she felt as though she was singled out even though she hadn’t done anything wrong. She said she is speaking out about the incident in hopes of furthering a discussion about “questions that give us clarity about the nature of our being in this society.”
“I can understand how people would say that I’m being a drama queen and that I created this situation for publicity,” she said. “To a certain degree, you can say they’re correct in that if I’m going to be in the public eye, I’m going to stand up for what I believe in, and I don’t believe I committed any crime where I deserved to be in handcuffs.”
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