LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – A former Los Angeles police sergeant violated city rules by releasing an audio tape of his conversation with a “Django Unchained” actress during her arrest in Studio City in 2014, the city’s Ethics Commission determined Tuesday.
LAPD Sgt. Jim Parker was fined $500 even though the commission had received a recommendation he be fined $10,000 for releasing audio recorded when he responded to a call on Sept. 11, 2014, of two people engaged in sex in a car parked near Ventura Boulevard and Radford Avenue in Studio City.
Parker reported he found actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, standing near a car, and police said they matched the description of the couple involved.
Police said Watts refused to give Parker any identification and walked away. Two other officers handcuffed her, but she was let go after Lucas presented them with her identification.
The case received significant media attention after Lucas later claimed on Facebook that the officers appeared to believe he and Watts were engaged in prostitution because he is white and she is black.
Watts had a small supporting role in the 2012 Quentin Tarantino film “Django Unchained.”
Four days after the incident, according to an Ethics Commission report, Parker released the recording of the encounter because he wanted to counter the claims of racism and to defend himself.
The report also said that on Sept. 30, 2014, Parker admitted on the record to the LAPD’s Board of Police Commissioners that he provided the audio recording to and that he knew doing so violated LAPD policy.
Lawrence Hanna, Parker’s lawyer, vowed before the hearing to file a lawsuit against the city in Superior Court if the commission levied any fine or if it ruled that Parker had violated any laws.
“This is wrong. It’s not over,” Hanna said after the ruling.
Watts and Lucas pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and were ordered to write apology letters to the officers and to the citizens who called the LAPD about their encounter. As part of a deal with prosecutors, charges of lewd conduct were dropped.
Parker spoke with CBS2 in September 2014 and called the department out on the investigation, which he called “ridiculous.”
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