Danièle Watts and boyfriend Brian James Lucas appeared on CNN’s New Day Monday morning and discussed with Michaela Pereira why Watts refused to show her identification to the Los Angeles police officer who detained her. According to Watts and her boyfriend, they were merely kissing in their car, but eyewitnesses say a little bit more was going on. Watts and Lucas believed that the officer took them for a prostitute and a john.
“When the officer came up, he didn’t even ask me for my ID,” Watts said. “He asked Brian. He didn’t give me the respect of telling me what happened. For me, if he had come to me and said, ‘Excuse me, ma’am, you seem like a respectable person, but someone made a call. Can we just talk to you for a second?’ the whole situation would have been different. He came at it with a very condescending manner, which I feel is typical of law enforcement across the country right now. If we’re a country representing freedom and equality for all, then police officers should be trained in treating people with that sort of dignity.”
But Pereira questioned Watts about why she didn’t just hand over her identification, even though California law does not require a person to present ID to officers.
“You see that if you had done that earlier, it might not have escalated that far?” Pereira asked.
“I certainly understand that, but I feel that part of my role as a public figure is to raise awareness and be strong enough to say and do the things that maybe people who don’t have the advantages I have aren’t strong enough, or don’t have the know-how or don’t have the awareness to do,” Watts said. “For me, standing up for that constitutional right was a gift and a blessing.”
Pereira than pulled out information from the ACLU that advises “people that the best course of action is to give the police your ID.”
In a statement released to CNN, the the Los Angeles Police Department said that a call was received about people engaging in a sexual act in a car, and that Watts and Lucas matched the description. Eventually the cops let Watts and her boyfriend go and did not charge either with a crime.