Breaking News Emails
"Django Unchained" actress Danièle Watts says she was "handcuffed and detained" by police last week, in part, because she kissed her partner.
"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," the actress wrote in a lengthy Facebook post about the Thursday incident.
Watts told NBC News on Sunday that she and chef Brian James Lucas — whom she refers to as her partner — were kissing inside their car at the CBS lot in Studio City, California when they were approached by a man in a suit and asked to leave because "employees were distracted" by the display. Watts said they laughed it off and stopped a few minutes later.
The actress said she then stepped outside of the car to make a phone call to her father. A police officer approached her and asked for identification, which she refused. "I knew I hadn't done anything wrong because I'd played a cop on TV and I know my rights," Watts said. So she told him she would not show identification unless he planned to charge her with a crime, and she walked away.
A few minutes later a different officer approached and told Watts, still on the phone, to put her hands on the wall and then handcuffed her, she said. "I burst into tears. I was afraid because of all the things happening in the country right now," Watts said, noting the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
She said when she reminded the officer of his oath to "protect and serve," he replied, "My job's not to serve people like you."
Watts said she was placed inside a squad car until Lucas provided her ID to the officer.
A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department told NBC News that officers were responding to a "citizen complaint of indecent exposure" after someone called 911 to complain two people were engaged in a "sexual act" inside a vehicle with an open door. She would not say what constitutes a sexual act or indecent exposure, but said that two individuals were detained, questioned and let go. A written statement issued by the LAPD Sunday evening confirmed that Watts and a companion had been briefly detained, but "upon further investigation it was determined that no crime had been committed." The statement added that "an internal complaint investigation has been initiated regarding this matter."
The actress, who is currently starring in the television show "Partners," said this was not the first time she and Lucas have been stopped by police for "suspicious behavior," and she believes this incident has more to do with their interracial relationship with Lucas, who is white. Watts said she and Lucas are talking to lawyers about possible action, but felt it was even more important to her to let people know what happened.
"If something like this can happen to me, an articulate, educated person, certainly there's more attention we need to shine on places like Ferguson."