At some point in the next few days, Erykah Badu will be sent a letter from the Dallas Police Department. Inside that piece of mail, she'll find a ticket charging her for a Class C misdemeanor, which could cost her $500 in fines.
"The City Attorney's Office and the Dallas Police Department have decided to charge the entertainer known as Erykah Badu with disorderly conduct," Sergeant Warren C. Mitchell of the Dallas Police Department announced shortly after 4:30 p.m. today at a news conference. To a small crowd of reporters assembled at DPD headquarters, Mitchell further explained that the R&B singer and Dallas native born Erica Wright acted with "disregard to individuals nearby" while stripping nude at Dealey Plaza as she filmed the one-take, guerrilla-style music video for her new single "Window Seat."
The charges are being filed based on the lone complaint that the police department has so far received, filed yesterday morning by Ida Espinosa, 32, of Vernon, Texas. The DPD report of the complaint states that Espinosa and her mother, who is listed as a witness in the affidavit, "were present at the video shoot... in which... Badu shed her clothing."
Says Mitchell: Espinosa said she was "disgusted" by what she saw. He also said that Espinosa came to them with the complaint -- and not the other way around. Today's announcement of charges against Badu comes seven days after the video's release on Saturday, March 27, and a full 21 days after the video shoot on Saturday, March 14.
Without Espinosa's complaint, Mitchell says, it was "unlikely" that police would have pursued charges against Badu.
"She came forward and provided us with the information," he said.
Mitchell could not confirm, however, if Espinosa appears as one of the people seen in the background of Badu's music video as she walked around the plaza.
"We're basing it off her testimony," he said. "We base a lot of our reports on first-hand witnesses."
The charge comes as a result, Mitchell said, of the public nudity involved. He admitted an unfamiliarity with the specifics of the code but said that it involves "displaying any part of your genitals and things like that."
"We've looked at other charges but we felt like this is the only one that fits with the concern," Mitchell added. It is still possible, Mitchell said, that City Hall may also fine Badu for not acquiring the proper permits for filming at the location. That much, he said, is out of the DPD's hands.
When asked if he thought Espinosa stepped forward and filed her complaint because of the media uproar over the clip, Mitchell smiled.
"I have no knowledge of that," he said after taking a quick breath. "But it would be a fair guess."
Mitchell himself admitted to having seen the music video before quickly changing the subject.
"I don't want it to appear as if the Dallas Police Department has an opinion one way or another," he continued. "It is against the law, and we will cite you."