‘Django Unchained’ actress to apologize to police
LOS ANGELES – An actress who accused Los Angeles police of mistreating her due to her race during an arrest last year pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace over the incident on Monday and was ordered to write an apology letter to the officers, officials said.
Daniele Watts, best known for her role in Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 slavery western “Django Unchained”, made headlines last September when she said she had been accosted by police largely because she is black and her boyfriend is white.
Watts and her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, each pleaded no contest to a count of disturbing the peace by loudness in a Los Angeles court, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office spokesman Rob Wilcox said.
As part of the deal, both will have to serve 40 hours of community service, obey the law, and write apology letters to a sergeant and two officers involved in the arrest and occupants of a building near the scene, Wilcox said.
Watts was handcuffed by police on Sept. 11 after they responded to a report from a passer-by that she and Lucas, a celebrity chef, were indecently exposed inside a silver Mercedes in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Studio City.
The couple later took to social media to accuse officers of violating her rights.
Watts said then on her Facebook page she was arrested “after refusing to agree that I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place.” Lucas said on his page that police thought Watts was a prostitute because of the couple’s attire and their skin color.
Lou Shapiro, an attorney for Watts and Lucas, told the Los Angeles Times newspaper his clients were happy with the deal.
“I think it’s a nice ending to an emotionally charged case, to have a letter of apology. Its a win for everybody,” he said.
The couple’s initial claims came as scrutiny over police interactions with African-Americans had been heightened following high profile police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and elsewhere last year.