Actress Danièle Watts says LAPD mistook her for a prostitute
Actress Danièle Watts is speaking out after she was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car after she and her partner, Brian James Lucas, claim Watts was mistaken as a prostitute.
The actress, who is best known from her roles in "Django Unchained" and "Weeds," said she was wearing a t-shirt, shorts and running shoes when the incident occurred.
The news of the episode, which took place late last week in Los Angeles, began to pick up steam after both Watts and Lucas took to social media to explain what had happened.
In the posts, the couple explained Watts was sitting on Lucas' lap and the two were kissing when someone reportedly asked them to "stop putting on a show."
A few minutes later, a police officer pulled up and asked for identification, according to their accounts. Watts refused as she said she was doing nothing wrong.
Still, the officer briefly handcuffed her, she said.
Now, the LAPD officer involved is claiming Watts was not accused of being a prostitute. But Lucas is refuting his chain of events.
"From the questions that he asked me ... 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 HO (prostitute) & a TRICK (client)," he wrote on Facebook.
Eventually, Watts provided identification and she was let go.
Still, the actress wasn't breaking any laws by refusing to show her ID to officers, according to Los Angeles' CBS affiliate KCAL.
"California has no law that requires people to show police their ID if they're just walking down the street," KCAL reported. However, if the police have reasonable suspicion to stop you then they may detain you until they know who you are."
BuzzFeed reached out to the LAPD for comment, but the department said it couldn't respond because there was no record of the incident.
A spokesperson told Buzzfeed that with an on-scene detention, and with no arrest, it was not uncommon to have little to no documentation.
Following the ordeal, Watts wrote a lengthy and emotional Facebook post, saying the experience actually enlightened her.
"I was sitting in that back of this cop car ...Yes, they had control over my physical body, but not my emotions. My feelings. My spirit was, and still is FREE," she 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.
A few minutes later, I was still talking to my dad when 2 different police officers accosted me and forced me into handcuffs.
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. 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... my ability to BE!!!!!!!
I was sitting in that back of this cop car, filled with adrenaline, my wrist bleeding in pain, and it occurred to me, that even there, I STILL HAD POWER OVER MY OWN SPIRIT.
Those cops could not stop me from expressing myself. They could not stop the cathartic tears and rage from flowing out of me. They could not force me to feel bad about myself. Yes, they had control over my physical body, but not my emotions. My feelings. My spirit was, and still is FREE.
I will continue to look any "authority figure" in the eye without fear. NO POLICE OFFICER OR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ME. WE ARE EQUALS. I KNOW THAT I WILL ALWAYS BE FREE BECAUSE THAT IS THE NATURE OF MY SPIRIT.
And moreover, I deeply enjoyed connecting with the cops who detained me. I allowed myself to be honest about my anger, frustration, and rage as tears flowed from my eyes. The tears I cry for a country that calls itself "the land of the free and the home of the brave" and yet detains people for claiming that very right.
Today I exist with courage, knowing that I am blessed to have experienced what I did today. All of those feelings, no matter how uncomfortable. These feelings are what builds my internal strength, my ability to grow through WHATEVER may happen to me.
That internal knowing is what guides me in this world. Not the law, not fear, not mistrust of government or cops or anything else.
In this moment there is a still small voice whispering to me. It says: You are love. You are free. You are pure.
Unfortunately, incidents like this are not unheard of.
The United Nations' first woman Under-Secretary-General, Dame Margaret Anstee, claims she was mistaken for a prostitute often enough to grow accustomed to the accusations.
In 2008, the parents of a 12-year-old Texas girl claimed three police officers arrested and beat her after mistaking the girl for a prostitute.