Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend plead not guilty Tuesday to charges of lewd conduct, said their attorney Lou Shapiro.
“I look forward to a positive outcome for my clients,” Shapiro said of the couple who were detained in September in Studio City, California, after police received a call saying a couple was having sex in a car.
A big brouhaha ensued when police arrived, with Watts accusing the police officer who stopped them of racism because she is black and her boyfriend is white.
City prosecutors charged Watts and Brian James Lucas with misdemeanor lewd conduct in October. Initially, the LAPD had no intention on charging the couple, but spokesman Lt. Andrew Neiman later said that a follow-up investigation “revealed witnesses who were willing to provide evidence of a criminal act.”
Daniele Watts, who appeared in the movie Django Unchained and the FX TV show Partners, has denied that the couple were having sex and defended her refusal to provide identification to officers during the encounter.
LAPD Sgt. in Hot Water for Leaking Daniele Watts Arrest Tape: 'I've Got More Charges Agai… http://t.co/1xO9r3H3R3 pic.twitter.com/7fIXtuYLbb
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) October 22, 2014
“We are, quite frankly, appalled and disturbed that the L.A. prosecutor’s office has chosen to file these charges against us,” the couple said in a statement in October.
“If a passionate public embrace while displaying no nudity is grounds for having charges filed against you, then we’d expect that everyone who engages in an extended public display of affection with their loved one will be targeted as well.”
Actress Daniele Watts charged with lewd conduct http://t.co/xkYXD8wv4W pic.twitter.com/HZPVSYD8BV
— KSBW Action News 8 (@ksbw) October 22, 2014
Sgt. Jim Parker, one of the officers involved in the detention told The LA Times that Watts repeatedly refused to provide identification and left the scene, leading the officers to handcuff her on the scene.
“If they had handled this situation in a civil manner, they would have never been charged or detained for that long,” Parker told The Times after their detention in September. “I would have been gone in five minutes.”
If convicted, the couple faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Their next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23.