LOS ANGELES — “Django Unchained” actress Daniele Watts defended her refusal to show her ID to Los Angeles police before they handcuffed her last week.
The African-American actress and her white boyfriend accused police of racism for questioning them in what they said was only a public display of affection.
“I believe in America and what it stands for,” Watts said Monday in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”
Police responded to a citizen complaint that “a male white and female black were involved in a sexual act inside a Mercedes” outside the gate of CBS Studio Center last Thursday, according to a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Legal experts said the officer had the right to request identification if he suspected illegal behavior, but audio of part of the encounter with police, published by TMZ, revealed that Watts did not believe so.
“Somebody called, which gives me the right to be here,” the unidentified Los Angeles police officer is heard saying to Watts. “So It gives me the right to identify you by law.”
“Do you know how many times the cops have been called just for being black?” she responded.
“Who brought up the race card?” the officer said.
“I’m bringing it up because I have every right to be here,” Watts said.
When the officer again asked for her ID, the actress responded, “You can take me down to the court office, and I can make a scene about it. And you know what? I have a publicist, and I work as an actor in this studio.”
The officer, who patrols a neighborhood home to many A-list celebs, including George Clooney and Miley Cyrus, seemed unmoved by the prospect. “I’m mildly interested you have a publicist, but I’m going to get your ID,” he told her.
“No, I’m going to say no, and if you’d like my ID you can say that I’m resisting arrest,” she said.
“There’s no resisting, you’re just interfering,” he said. “I have probable cause; we received a radio call.”
Watts called her father. “I can’t make out with my boyfriend in front of my … studio?” she is heard yelling to her father using a profanity. “I don’t have to give him my ID because it’s my right to sit on the … street corner and make out with my boyfriend. That’s my right.”
“Keep yelling, it really helps,” the officer then said.
Watts was eventually handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. She was released a few minutes later when her boyfriend relented and gave the officer her ID.
A Los Angeles police representative told CNN on Sunday that officers from its North Hollywood precinct were responding to a citizen complaint.
“There was an indication on the radio call that a male white and female black were involved in a sexual act inside a Mercedes with the vehicle door open,” Officer Sally Madera said. “Two people were briefly detained, but it was revealed no crime had been committed.”
Watts’ boyfriend — Brian James Lucas, better known as celebrity chef Cheffy Be*Live — wrote in a Facebook post that police “saw a tatted RAWKer white boy and a hot bootie shorted black girl and thought we were a HO (prostitute) & a TRICK (client).”
The couple posted a short video clip and several photos showing Watts in handcuffs talking to police. One image shows a cut on her wrist, which she said was caused by the tight handcuffs.
Watts, who acts in the FX show “Partners,” said the officers “accosted me and forced me into handcuffs” after she refused “to agree that I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place.”
Lucas said when an officer asked for their identifications, he showed his but Watts refused “to give it because they had no right to do so.”
“So they handcuffed her and threw her roughly into the back of the cop car until they could figure out who she was,” he wrote. “In the process of handcuffing her, they cut her wrist, which was truly NOT COOL!!!”
She was released “quite quickly when they realized we were right outside CBS and that she was a celebrity and I was a celeb chef,” Lucas wrote. “Before they figured out who she was they were threatening calling an ambulance and drugging her for being psychologically unstable, SO NOT COOL WHATSOEVER! ”
Watts and Lucas said they initially decided to forget about the incident, but then they decided they needed to speak up.
“We still forgive, love and bless them … just not putting up with this for our own freedom and heart space,” Lucas wrote.
The couple has contacted lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, he said. “Our publicist has us in contact with media about it, too, and we’re supposed to hear back.”
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed it is conducting an internal investigation.
Watts, a native of Atlanta, made her feature film debut in 2012 as Coco in the Oscar-nominated “Django Unchained.”