Crime & Justice

LAPD Chief Beck: Officer who handcuffed actress Daniele Watts 'acted appropriately'

Daniele Watts attends a Janelle Monae concert at Club Nokia on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Daniele Watts attends a Janelle Monae concert at Club Nokia on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Todd Williamson/Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck Tuesday held a press conference to defend an officer who handcuffed a movie actress last week during a police stop in Studio City. Beck said an investigation into the officer has been opened but he believes police acted appropriately.

"I have reviewed the audio recordings. I have looked at the photographs...we have done interviews with witnesses, and on the initial review, it appears the officers did exactly what  people of Los Angeles would expect," Beck said. "They responded to a report of a crime, and upon their arrival, they investigated that crime and took proper actions."

Daniele Watts, who was in the movie "Django Unchained," was detained Thursday outside the CBS Studios by an officer who was responding to a 911 call about people having sex in a car. The officer recorded the incident on his own personal audio recorder, according to authorities.

Watts became angry, accused the officer of racial profiling, refused to give him her ID and walked away. Watts is black; her boyfriend is white.

She was put into handcuffs and sat in the back of a police car, according to her Facebook post of the encounter, which incited a wave of media reports and instant reaction on social media.

On Monday, TMZ released an edited version of the audio recording.

Sgt. Jim Parker told KFI AM 640 on Monday during a radio interview that he recorded the encounter on his personal audio recording device. He defended himself saying they were responding to a call and he needed her ID to complete an investigation.

Beck said internal affairs detectives opened an investigation based on Watts's complaints to the public. The investigation will also look at whether Sgt. Parker released the audio to the media.

But Beck asaid when a police officer has reasonable suspicion, the officer can ask for an ID. There's no requirement the person offers it to police but Beck said that person could be interfering or delaying an investigation if he or she refuses to do so.

Beck said the the incident highlights why body cameras on officers are useful.