LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Police Department is conducting an internal investigation after “Django Unchained” actress Daniele Watts accused officers of violating her rights when they handcuffed and detained her while responding to a report of indecent exposure.
The city’s police force is investigating a complaint from Watts, who posted a picture on Facebook last week showing her crying next to an officer with her hands behind her back.
In a statement released over the weekend, Los Angeles police said its officers had responded to a report from a passerby that a couple were indecently exposed inside a silver Mercedes on Thursday afternoon.
The officers detained Watts, who is black, and her boyfriend, who is white, but soon determined the two had not broken any laws and released them.
Watts’ boyfriend, Los Angeles chef Brian James Lucas, wrote on his Facebook page on Friday that he and Watts were “accosted by police after showing our affection publicly.” He added that the police had thought she was a prostitute because of the couple’s attire and their differing skin colors.
Celebrity news outlet TMZ on Monday posted an audio clip from the police purportedly from the incident, where Watts is heard confronting a police officer who asked for her identification after saying he was called to the area because someone reported “lewd acts in the car.” Watts declines to give the officer her ID.
The actress says “Do you know how many times I’ve been called, the cops have been called just for being black, because we’re black against white? I‘m just being really honest.”
The police officer then responds “Who brought up the race card? Why?”
In the nearly three minute-long audio clip, Watts is heard becoming increasingly upset as the police officer continues asking for her ID, and at one point, she mentions “I have a publicist and I work as an actor at this studio.”
The incident occurred near the CBS Radford studios in Studio City, about 6 miles (10 km) northwest of Hollywood.
Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Officer Wendy Reyes said the audio appeared to be from the incident, but she could not confirm how TMZ obtained the recording.
Watts is best known for her supporting role in Quentin Tarantino’s 2012’s slavery western film “Django Unchained,” and more recently starred alongside Kelsey Grammar and Martin Lawrence in FX show “Partners.”
“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,” Watts wrote on her Facebook page.
Watts’ representatives did not respond to calls for comment Monday, although she and Lucas appeared on CNN, where the actress defended her decision to not hand her ID to the police.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy, additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Mary Milliken and Andrew Hay