On Friday, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission announced that it has formally charged retired LAPD Sergeant Jim Parker, who detained Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend for lewd behavior last year.
Parker faces two counts of violating city ethics rules for leaking audio from the exchange to the media.
The Los Angeles Times notes that Parker could face a total of $10,000 in fines for each violation.
Parker had detained Watts and her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, on September 11, 2014 after employees and passers-by reported that the couple were having sex in a parked car in a nearby parking lot.
Watts had accused Parker of being racist and that he had briefly detained them because she is black and her boyfriend is white. Watts refused to present ID verification when asked for it, which is when she was detained. Parker had released the audio tapes to clear himself of such allegations. Watts was later encouraged to apologize to Parker by black activists who said she “cried wolf” by falsely accusing Parker of being a racist.
Watts was subsequently ordered to issue a letter of apology by a Los Angeles judge who found it to be “insincere” and ordered her and her boyfriend to 15 days of community labor and two years of probation.
This past June, Parker retired after 26 years of service in the police department. His decision was predicated on the fact that he wished to avoid answering to accusations of insubordination for speaking to the media without permission.
Parker’s attorney, Larry Hanna, reportedly told the Times last month that in over 20 years of practicing law, he had “never, ever seen” an ethics violation investigation targeting an LAPD officer, while noting that other officers have made recordings available to the public in the past without facing ethics violations charges. “For some reason, they’re being very vindictive against this officer,” Hanna said.
The Times also referred to the decision to file a complaint against Parker as “highly unusual” considering ethics violations listed on the City Ethics Commission website–dating back to 1993–often involve campaign finance rules.
A public evidentiary hearing will reportedly take place next, followed by an administrative hearing to determine what, if any, punishment Parker should face. Those dates have not yet been set.