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Author Topic: The Daniele Watts Incident  (Read 966 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

The Daniele Watts Incident
« on: September 14, 2014, 09:36:36 AM »
I just read about it:

http://variety.com/2014/film/news/django-unchained-actress-handcuffed-mistaken-for-prostitute-1201305240/

What do you think about it? I don't know American law - is it OK for the police officers to handcuff someone just for not showing her ID? And what do you think of the possible racist subtext in that situation?

BTW. As I understand, in the States it's driving licenses that are treated as IDs. What about people who do not have a driving license, though?

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2014, 09:53:06 AM »
Seems like several things went wrong in this case. 

One does not need to identify him or herself to a police officer in the US unless they have been accused of a violation of the law.  Given that she was "accused" of a violation, she was obligated to show her ID.  With that being said, however, the police officer did not have reasonable grounds to suspect her of violating the law.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2014, 10:20:23 AM »
I have to disagree there Val. If a cop asks you to provided identification, you have to show it or they can detain you - as was done in that article. Showing identification is not an admittance of guilt - it is just giving them your identification. Now, I do not understand (based on what little there is in the article) what prompted them to think prostitute & john (what kind of public affection were they doing? Screwing in public? Being lewd in public? Kissing in public? Groping a butt/groin?) but whatever it was they deemed it enough to stop them and question.

It really is no different than traffic stops. One tail light out? They can use that as a reason to pull you over - and then start a general conversation with you as a quick sobriety test. Refuse to show identification and the situation goes from just a random stop to a detaining while they look for any and every thing they can find.

In the end, it really is easier to just show your ID, answer their questions and go on your way than to give attitude and lip to the officers. They can and will make things harder if you refuse to comply.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2014, 10:31:18 AM »
I have to disagree there Val. If a cop asks you to provided identification, you have to show it or they can detain you - as was done in that article.

You're right, this is what any sane person including myself would do - just show your ID.  But technically, unless there is reasonable suspicion, one does not have to show ID.

If you are simply walking down the street, and a police officer asks for ID, you are within your rights to decline showing.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2014, 10:32:15 AM »
Reasonable suspicion encompasses such a broad spectrum that the police can use pretty much anything to stop someone.  An officer simply has to say they smelled marijuana or thought they saw the suspect do something and they can stop an individual.  An officer can also do this for loitering since technically that is a crime.  Once they go with that idea, they can “stop and identify” a person.  I don’t agree that the woman was stopped and certainly do think there was racial motivation.  At the same time she was definitely doing something in order to antagonize the officer since she refused to give her identification to them.

Offline Slywyn

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2014, 10:46:20 AM »
You're right, this is what any sane person including myself would do - just show your ID.  But technically, unless there is reasonable suspicion, one does not have to show ID.

If you are simply walking down the street, and a police officer asks for ID, you are within your rights to decline showing.

If they ask you for your ID, you pretty much have to show them. It's a "if you don't have anything to hide, don't try to hide it" situation. If you don't show it, they can use reasonable suspicion.

Coming from a cop I know/talk to sometimes:

Quote
Reasonable Suspicion (a hunch you can articulate) is enough to detain someone. This is Investigative Detention and is completely lawful. If you refuse to identify yourself (to the officers satisfaction, no we're not gonna take you're word for it), you'll be detained as long as it takes to ID you.

Totally legit. Hate it for them that they found out they're not special snowflakes.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2014, 11:53:36 AM »
Law is not my specialty (so if someone has more knowledge about this, please feel free to chime in).  I'd probably just show my ID or answer any reasonable questions a police offer asked.  But based on state-to-state laws, I do not believe you need to show your ID if a law has not been violated (in some cases).

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« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 11:54:41 AM by Valthazar »

Offline Iniquitous

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2014, 12:03:24 PM »
Correction: Many states have laws about 'stop and identify'. In a consensual "stop" where the cop is just talking with you, most states say you do not have to show identification. This is those situations where the cop just comes walking up and starts talking to you - you can confirm it is a consensual stop by asking "Am I free to go?". In the case in that article, it was an actual detainment - the cops felt they had reasonable cause to believe illegal activity was being performed or about to be performed (not getting into the racial aspect because I have not seen a video to support nor read anyone's account that supports such). In such a detainment, you are legally required to show your identification or you will be held until your identification is established.

It is not a violation of your rights for a cop, who thinks you just might be up to something, to ask for your identification. Refusing to provide it will only make their suspicion all the more strong though and all you have managed to do is escalate the situation and made it harder on yourself.

P.S - most of the males in my family are cops. That is where I get my information from.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2014, 12:07:32 PM »
Thanks for the clarification IO, that makes sense.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2014, 12:09:52 PM »
And what do you think about the racist aspect, guys? Do you think it's possible that this couple was stopped only because the cops thought "White guy and Black woman? Must be a prostitute!"?

Offline consortium11

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2014, 12:15:03 PM »
California does not have any "stop and identify" state laws as far as I'm aware.

In strictly technical terms, the police can demand identification only when they already have reasonable suspicion; one cannot use a refusal to show ID as reasonable suspicion in and of itself.

From what I understand from the limited amount of information we have, Watts and her husband were kissing in public (fully clothed) when someone informed the police. The police arrived and chatted to the husband (who I'd himself) while Watts spoke to her father on her phone. From what the husband says what the police said indicated that the reason they has stopped them was that they thought Watts was a prostitute and he was a john.

So the question comes down to whether a reasonable police officer would be suspicious that a white man and a black girl kissing in public were a prostitute and her client. This does have to take into account all the circumstances; is the area they're in known for prostitution in general and/or prostitution by black women in particular? Was there anything about their dress or manner that would make someone think they were prostitute and client etc etc? Without knowing more facts I couldn't say, although I somewhat suspect not.

Of course, that's all in strictly legal terms. In the real world there's a good chance that not ID'ing yourself when asked will anger a policeman who will come up with a generic and hard to disprove reasonable suspicion ("I smelt marijuana" being a common one), demand ID again at which point he can detain you legally for refusing to show ID.

Offline Slywyn

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2014, 12:44:22 PM »
From what I understand from the limited amount of information we have, Watts and her husband were kissing in public (fully clothed) when someone informed the police.

If this is the case, then the racism in question lands squarely on the shoulders of the person who phoned it in.

The police were just checking up on a call, their involvement at that point is basically incidental at best in the racism aspect of it.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2014, 01:30:17 PM »
If the call was made by another citizen in the area then the officer was sent into the situation with an already developed prejudice.  The officer is there at the request of someone else to investigate possible soliciting activity.  He did not just have reasonable suspicion, he had an actual complaint.  So really at this point even “stop and identify” is off the table as he has a citizen complaining about an activity being done.  Also makes me wonder what the couple considers “just kissing” to be.  Perhaps there was some heavy petting and what people might consider quite a bit of intimate kissing and touching going on at the scene.  Enough that a bystander felt the need to call the police.  The matter could have been and was eventually cleared up with simple cooperation, but her initial resistance no doubt raised suspicion.  Handing over an ID card is not a great deal of trouble and her lack of cooperation would make anyone question motive.

While I understand the outrage, at the same time what is the officer supposed to do when confronted with a complaint of that nature?  Would he simply be deterred by any woman saying that the guy next to her is her boyfriend or just a friend?  So then as a citizen I can no longer depend on the police to even question or investigate my complaints.  Instead I just have to hope he arrives in time to catch the guy zipping up as they leave the alley.  At some point the officer has to at least trust that a citizen calling in a complaint has some reasonable disapproval of the situation.  So the best course of action is to assess and identify so that he can calm down the complaint and address the issue.  He is trying to keep the peace on both sides.

Offline Cycle

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2014, 02:17:12 PM »
A reasonably good summary of U.S. stop and identify statutes.

Of course, law aside, there is simply the issue of thinking things through.  If a police officer stops you, and asks for ID, the easiest way for you to deal with the situation and get on with your life is to simply show your ID.  Unless, of course, you are concerned that being identified may cause other problems--e.g., there is a warrant out for your arrest.  But in this latter case you really have no basis to complain about being asked to show your ID.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2014, 04:49:45 PM »
If they ask you for your ID, you pretty much have to show them. It's a "if you don't have anything to hide, don't try to hide it" situation. If you don't show it, they can use reasonable suspicion.

The bit I bolded there? Terrible, terrible advice. Speaking as a layperson, I'd say it's probably smart to provide documentation if you can, but say absolutely nothing unless you're confident enough of its truth to bet your freedom on it. 18 USC 1001 is extremely broad in practice, and is being used increasingly often to set traps.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2014, 04:54:07 PM »
Ephiral is right.  I've heard some lawyers tell their clients to simply put their lawyers card between their lips if need be.  Only spoke when spoken to, provide what information is asked of you and keep eyes forward and hands in plain sight.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2014, 08:21:27 PM »
So I read a different news article on this. In it there was more information.  Like the actress and her partner were in a parked car "kissing" but a call came in that a black woman and a white man were involved in a sexual act in a parked mercades with the door open. What they were doing was distracting to the employees of the business they were parked in front of and someone came up to the car  and said something to them about their conduct but they laughed it off. She got out of the car as the police were coming up to call her father and that is where everything went south.

She also claims that she knows the cops are wrong cause she has played a cop before and knows her rights. And she stated this is not the first time this has happened to her and her partner and that she believes it is racial profiling and the public needs to be made aware of it and a closer look at Ferguson needs to be made.

My opinion? It has happened to her more than once and she is claiming racial profiling AND bringing up Ferguson?  She is trying to have this happen to get in the news.

Offline Slywyn

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2014, 08:40:18 PM »
Sorry if I gave someone bad advice. =x

The quoted part is the only bit my officer friend had to say, the rest of it was mine. So yeah, my bad.

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2014, 09:29:18 PM »
She also claims that she knows the cops are wrong cause she has played a cop before and knows her rights.

I'm sorry - is this like 'I'm not a doctor, but I was on House M.D. once and...'  ???

Offline Iniquitous

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2014, 09:45:26 PM »
I'm sorry - is this like 'I'm not a doctor, but I was on House M.D. once and...'  ???

I know! I read that and facepalmed. I couldnt believe she said that!



« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 09:53:11 PM by Iniquitous Opheliac »

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2014, 04:24:09 AM »
Hmm, so correct me if I got this wrong: I'm exiting a supermarket in LA, facing a public park, and that side of the park has a certain (vague) local notoriety for attracting smalltime crooks, hookers, buskers and people who are down on their luck - some of the hours of the day, mostly the late and nocturnal hours. But this is fully daytime. I'm looking perfectly ordinary and tidy and having crossed the narrow street into the park I take a few steps to the side and haul up my cell phone to make a call. A cop approaches me and asks who I am and what I'm doing there. I'm not a US citizen, just a tourist and not carrying my passport around at the time, but I tell him I'm Louise, visiting from Europe, smile and make a slight motion with my head to show that I need to get on with the phone call. The cop asks for an ID and mutters that I am in a strange place. I make a quick grimace and say I don't have an American ID card or driving licence and that I honestly don't see why I would have to provide identity papers here and now. The cop grabs my cell phone, forces my arms behind my back without warning and handcuffs me, then calls for assistance saying he has a suspect person who has been acting obstinately, possibly a hooker.

That sounds ridiculous. ??? Are you people saying he would be entitled to do this simply by virtue of being a cop?
« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 05:27:51 AM by gaggedLouise »

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2014, 09:18:50 AM »
        Seems to me people are insinuating the cops do what they like because the woman is Black and well, cops are just gonna profile to begin with and assume Black women in cars with White guys "bothering" callers of whatever stripe...  Must be suspect. 

        By which reasoning, anyone who happens to walk down a street where drug sales have sometimes (or is it ever?) occurred should also be treated as guilty until proven innocent.  I passed some shady guys in a park in New York when I was just visiting.  But really by this logic, it could just as well be me the police should be cuffing and frisking for spending any time there.  Except maybe that I happen to be White. 

        Or anyone who just happens to "bother" someone annoyable to call.  Heck, the neighbors once threatened to call on my housemate because they "knew you people were having sex."  Actually I think it was the sound of the floggings and volume of ecstatic screams that bothered them, but you get the picture.

         I don't care about the fine print technicalities right off and I really don't buy the 'always carry ID, prove you're innocent by doing everything they say' line.  Any cop who wants to make a quota or lord it over a tense situation can easily abuse that to the ends of the earth.  One of the things that has set life in the US apart, at least for most of my life, was that you generally don't have to carry ID everywhere (particularly if you don't drive, but regardless).  Heck, fact is here in China which is supposedly the relatively more monitored, slightly paranoid country, I have hardly ever taken out ID for anything except hospital visits or traveling.  As for day to day, I never use and I don't need to worry about carrying it around.

        I think this was racially motivated, just another case of police assuming things of darker skin tones that they wouldn't of others.  And saying it's up to the Black community to always carry ID, always go hands up and meek and obedient "model" submissive candidate for sycophant minority as they are regularly stopped for nothing and in cases like this cuffed and interrogated on the street only to be released without charge?  That is not helping.
 
« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 09:20:17 AM by kylie »

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2014, 09:56:24 AM »
Here's a question, though - the second article that IO references says that someone from the restaurant came out and told the couple that there was an issue, and they 'laughed it off'.   Might this whole thing have been avoided if they had said something like 'Oh, I'm sorry we were distracting your employees.  Come on, honey, let's go snog somewhere else.'?   (Okay, maybe leaving off that last bit until the employee left.)  Would the cops have even been called if the couple hadn't 'laughed it off'?

Politeness and a calm demeanor go a long way in social interactions, especially when compared with the entitlement attitude that many people seem to have these days.

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Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2014, 09:57:10 AM »
I have to disagree there Val. If a cop asks you to provided identification, you have to show it or they can detain you - as was done in that article.
I have mixed feelings about this. I mean a driver's licence is one thing. That's a privilege to operate a vehicle, but the ability to detain someone just for not showing/having ID upon request (though I agree probably cause is a broad term), just because the police officer requests it smacks a little too much of, "You will present your papers."

I'm not a fan of that as an American. I've also grow very uncomfortable around cops who refer to the those they serve and protect as civilians. So it might be my personal affectation.   

Offline Slywyn

Re: The Daniele Watts Incident
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2014, 10:33:39 AM »
I think this was racially motivated, just another case of police assuming things of darker skin tones that they wouldn't of others.  And saying it's up to the Black community to always carry ID, always go hands up and meek and obedient "model" submissive candidate for sycophant minority as they are regularly stopped for nothing and in cases like this cuffed and interrogated on the street only to be released without charge?  That is not helping.

Police didn't just walk up to her and be like "Hey, gimme your ID"

They were responding to a called in complaint.

Whatever racial motivation there may or may not have been rests on the caller, not the responding officer.