Cop accused of racism by 'Django' actress fined
Anow-retired Los Angeles police officer, who grabbed headlines over the detention of a "Django Unchained" actress, was fined $500 Tuesday by an ethics commission for leaking audio of the incident. Sergeant James Parker had faced a $10,000 fine but members of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission said a lower nominal penalty was more appropriate. In a highly unusual move, Parker was accused of violating city ethics rules after he leaked audio of his September 2014 encounter with African-American actress Daniele Watts. Parker's attorney, Lawrence Hanna, expressed outrage at the ethics commission ruling, blasting panel members as "cowards" and vowing an appeal.
"This is the first police officer they've ever done this to... and they are trying to make an example out of him," he told AFP. "They are cowards because they just feel that they have to do something and to show that they're being tough rather than backing a police officer and doing what's right." In the 2014 incident, Watts was briefly handcuffed and detained by police who were responding to a report of a couple having sex in a car parked in Studio City, an upscale neighborhood of Los Angeles. She had refused to show any form of identification to the responding officers and was released after her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, gave police her ID.
The actress-who played Coco in Quentin Tarantino's Oscarwinning 2012 film "Django Unchained"-and Lucas initially claimed that the police action was racially motivated. Lucas wrote on his Facebook page that officers acted as though the pair were engaged in prostitution as he is white and Watts is black. Parker defended his actions, which gained national attention, by releasing an audiotape of the encounter to the celebrity website TMZ, prompting a backlash against the couple. He was not paid for the tape, his attorney said. Lucas and Watts subsequently pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and were ordered to apologize to police officers. As part of their deal with prosecutors, charges of lewd conduct were dropped.