•Daniele Watts claims police assumed she was a prostitute
• Actor says she was ‘humiliated’ in incident with partner
An actor who starred in the Oscar-winning movie Django Unchained has claimed she was handcuffed and detained by police officers in Los Angeles who assumed she was a prostitute, because she was kissing her white partner in his car.
Daniele Watts, who is black and who played the slave CoCo in Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed 2012 film, said she was “humiliated” by the incident, which she said occurred in the Studio City neighbourhood on Thursday.
The Los Angeles police department at first said it had no record of the incident, because no arrest was made. On Sunday a spokeswoman told the Guardian: “We are looking into it and hope to have more information possibly on Monday.”
Watts posted photographs of the encounter on her Facebook page, one highlighting a bloody injury to her wrist she said was caused by handcuffs, another showing the actor in tears, standing next to a low wall with her hands restrained behind her back and an officer questioning her.
The incident began, Watts said, when a member of the public, apparently upset at the couple’s public display of affection, called police. An officer demanded to see identification from Watts, 28, and her partner Brian Lucas, a celebrity chef. Lucas complied but Watts refused and walked away, saying she was under no obligation to show it.
In a Facebook post, Watts wrote: “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.
“When the officer arrived, I was standing on the sidewalk by a tree. I was talking to my father on my cell phone. I knew that I had done nothing wrong, that I wasn’t harming anyone, so I walked away.”
Watts wrote that she was still talking to her father a few minutes later when two other officers arrived in a patrol car, “accosted me and forced me into handcuffs”. She said they then placed her in the back of the car and took her back to the scene, where she was questioned and released.
Lucas said the line of questioning taken by police was laden with innuendo. “They kept asking, ‘Do you really know her?’”
In a Facebook post of his own, Lucas, who has appeared on television as a gourmet raw food chef, said the officers “saw a tatted rocker white boy and a hot bootie shorted black girl and thought we were HO [prostitute] and trick [client]”.
Lucas said police also threatened to call an ambulance and have Watts drugged for being “psychologically unstable”, before they established her identity and released her.
“They had nothing to arrest her for. They let her go quite quickly when they realised we were right outside CBS and that she was a celebrity,” he added.
Watts, who also appears in the Showtime series Weeds, said she was upset but not surprised by the incident.
“As I was sitting in the back of the police car, I remembered the countless times my father came home frustrated or humiliated by the cops when he had done nothing wrong,” she wrote.
“I felt his shame, his anger, and my own feelings of frustration for existing in a world where I have allowed myself to believe that ‘authority figures’ could control my being.”
Last month the Beverly Hills police department expressed its regret, but stopped short of an apology, after arresting, handcuffing and detaining the Hollywood producer Charles Belk, who it mistook for a robbery suspect.
Belk, who was walking from a restaurant to his car to feed a parking meter before the Emmy awards ceremony, “matched the clothing and physical characteristics” of the robber, was arrested and spent several hours in custody.
“I was misidentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male’,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “If something like this can happen to me it can certainly happen to anyone.”
via the guardian