Former LAPD Sgt. Jim Parker appeared in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Monday to battle a $10,000 fine imposed by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, stemming from a 2014 incident in which he was falsely accused of racism by actress Daniele Watts.
In September 2014, Parker approached the now 30-year-old Django Unchained actress and her boyfriend Brian James Lucas in a parking lot near a Studio City office complex. Witnesses had called police to complain that the couple appeared to be having sex in a parked car on the premises.
As heard in audio recorded during the encounter, Watts repeatedly refused to provide identification to Parker when asked; the actress, who is black, also accused Parker of racial discrimination, because her boyfriend is white.
The Ethics Commission initiated a complaint against Parker for leaking audio of the incident to gossip outlet TMZ. The officer was charged with violating a confidentiality agreement and was ordered to attend a disciplinary hearing, but Parker — a 26-year veteran of the LAPD — chose to resign instead.
In testimony at a downtown courthouse on Monday, Parker reiterated that he publicized the audio tape in an effort to clear his name, as he said his superiors failed to support him as allegations of racism continued to mount, the Los Angeles Times reported.
L.A. Ethics Commission director of enforcement Sergio Perez reportedly said Monday that Parker had violated the law and that he knew what he had done “was wrong.”
Larry Hanna, an attorney for Parker, said that the now-retired officer had simply done what other officers have done in the past, and was being singled out by the department because he had attempted to defend himself.
In filing the complaint against Parker in August, the Ethics Commission had said the officer could pay a $2,500 fine to settle the case, or else go to trial. Parker’s attorney told TMZ that month that the officer would take the case to trial.
Watts and Lucas were charged with lewd conduct in October 2014 and pled no contest to a charge of disturbing the peace in May of the following year. As part of their settlement, the couple were ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and to write apology letters to Parker for insinuating the arrest was based on racial discrimination.
Watts had previously refused to apologize to the officer, even as several civil rights leaders accused the actress of “crying wolf” over the incident.
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