Has Quentin Tarantino lied for decades about going to jail in LA County?


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In what has become one of the most nonsensical stories of the awards season, Quentin Tarantino is still pissing off police officers around the country. QT attended a Rise Up rally back in October, and when he spoke at the rally, he referred to certain cops as “murderers.” Those cops he was referring to? Those were the cops who actually shot and killed unarmed civilians. QT has clarified his statement, but police unions around the country are set to “protest” his new film, The Hateful Eight. The controversy has become quite heated, and the NY Post has taken sides, running multiple stories about “cop-hater” Tarantino. Over the weekend, the Post ran yet another story, this time saying that Tarantino has been lying for “decades” about doing some jail time for unpaid tickets.

Quentin Tarantino — under fire for recent comments about police violence — has claimed for decades that, as a young man, he served time in a Los Angeles County jail. One problem: The LA County Sheriff’s Department has no record of the filmmaker ever being in its system. At The Post’s request, the department searched its files back through the 1980s, when, according to Tarantino, he would have been incarcerated.

“A check of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department jail records revealed no evidence that Mr. Tarantino was ever incarcerated in our jail system,” said Capt. Christopher Reed of the Sheriff’s Office. Tarantino used to tell the story as evidence of his outlaw bona fides. But on a recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Tarantino, now 52, recounted it again to claim solidarity with police protesters — that he understands what it means to be frightened of cops.

“Back when I was in my 20s and broke, I was a little scared of the cops, all right?” Tarantino told ­Maher. “And oftentimes, I had warrants out on me for traffic stuff that I never took care of and everything . . . I’d get stopped, and I’d have to do eight days in county jail.”

The Post spent a week calling and e-mailing Tarantino’s agent, lawyer, publicists and Harvey Weinstein, who produced the director’s upcoming movie, “The Hateful Eight.” The Post also left voice mails on Tarantino’s personal phone line. No one responded to any of the inquiries.

As a budding film geek, Tarantino worked at LA’s Video Archives rental store for five years — a story key to his creation myth. In the ­Maher appearance, he said he couldn’t pay his traffic tickets because he earned only $10,000 a year. It’s a claim he has made as far back as 1992, when he told Paris Voice a version of the same story. “If I had a brush with the law, I think I’d wise up fast,” he said. “I spent eight days in the county jail on traffic warrants once. At first, I thought, ‘Wow, I’m going to pick up some great dialogue in here.’ But then you realize what a waste of time it is. They treat you like an animal, and nobody wants to be treated like an animal.”

Tarantino’s lone brush with the law, according to the LA County Sheriff’s Department, is a 2000 charge for driving without a license and failure to appear in court. He paid a fine to avoid jail.

“A check of court records revealed that in August of 2000, he paid a fine of $871, which included court costs, for violation of driving without a license,” Reed said. The payment was “in lieu of an eight-day sentence imposed by the court,” the captain added.

[From The New York Post]

I wonder… would Tarantino’s record be accessible via Freedom of Information Act requests? I’m not so sure it would be, which might mean that the NY Post paid off some LA county cops for a version of the story that they wanted to print. Also, I don’t know how California does it, but in some states, those low-level violations (like driving with an expired license, or parking tickets) are expunged from a person’s records after several years if the situation is dealt with, either by paying the fines or jail time. Or, you know, maybe Tarantino is lying. It seems like a weird thing to lie about so consistently, in interview after interview.

Last thing: Page Six also claimed, weeks ago, that Harvey Weinstein was pissed about this whole QT-cop situation. But Harvey went to the Hollywood Reporter and made this statement: “Bob and I are getting along better than ever with Quentin. I think he’s been misunderstood and misinterpreted. I respect his right to speak out for what he believes in, while at the same time respecting the sacrifices made every day by the overwhelming majority of our police officers. The two are not mutually exclusive.” Good luck, Harvey.

Photos courtesy of Getty, WENN.

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19 Responses to “Has Quentin Tarantino lied for decades about going to jail in LA County?”

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  1. Bridget says:

    Seriously, what on earth happened to the police unions? When did “don’t kill unarmed civilians” become an out of line criticism?

    • Santia says:

      For real!

      As for the claim he lied about. unpaid. parking. tickets. Seriously?? If he was trying to get “street cred” wouldn’t he come up with something edgier (i.e. a la Ben Carson’s alleged attempted murder). Odds are he really spent time for the tickets and the records were expunged.

      • Bridget says:

        Even if he lied it’s not something that I can make myself care about particularly much. The guy just makes movies, he’s not running for president. Though I find it weird that The Post is even going with this. Either it’s some Oscars sabotage or they’re really really pro-police union (which…)

  2. Naya says:

    QTs own race issues reflect in his movies and its always upset me that he gets a pass just because his plagiarised movies are considered cool. And I do think he probably has lied about spending time in a jail cell. Having said that, this cop union is CRAY. So for the first time ever I find myself backing QT 100%. I’ll even go watch Hateful Eight at the cinema, maybe bring some friends with me.

  3. Kelly says:

    How much street cred do you get from being “incarcerated” for traffic tickets? I can see him lying about it. Reminds me of “Walk the Line” when Johnny Cash’s wife tells him now you know what you’re singing about.

  4. Penelope says:

    Can’t stand him and his obnoxious personality. And his movies are overrated imo.

  5. sherry says:

    I ran a across a site called Statement Analysis while reading about the Amanda Blackburn murder. I think her husband had something to do with her murder – too many coincidences and he’s just weird.

    Anyway, the guy who runs the site analyzed Quentin Tarantino’s statements and concluded he was not being truthful regarding being in jail.

    • Penelope says:

      Sherry, that site is fascinating! Can’t find anything about the Blackburn husband being a suspect in her murder, though–I thought the police ruled him out?

      • sherry says:

        I have fallen in love with that site! The police said he wasn’t the killer (which he wasn’t, because he had an alibi … at the gym and on the phone with his friend from college when she was shot). The investigation is ongoing, which means they are still looking. There are just too many coincidences for him not to be connected in some way. Of course, maybe he’s just a narcissist without empathy, but I think he had his wife killed.

    • justagirl says:

      That Analysis site is really interesting & informative, you can spend hours reading there. I agree that Tarantino is stretching things, at least a bit. He’s too vague with some details that just do not get fuzzy with time, and too specific with others.

  6. Ginger says:

    His movies are hit or miss for me. I definitely don’t drink the kool aid that he’s such a great writer/director. The majority of the time I roll my eyes at what he says. I understand the protesting going on against bad cops who take advantage of their position and become corrupt. By all means protest and try to change the situation. However, not all law enforcement are like this. I am
    Married to a former police officer and brother is also in law enforcement. They are good men. I get really tired of people like QT who break the law and supposedly fear the police but don’t go to court and try to fix the situation. If you don’t want to go to jail/court for tickets then don’t get them in the first place. And definitely don’t try to claim some kind of street cred when you are a privileged rich person who (maybe) went to jail for a week. I really can’t roll my eyes hard enough at him.

    • Bridget says:

      There is an ocean of difference between saying ‘there is a huge problem with some of our big city police forces’ and saying ‘all cops are bad’, though.

  7. Incredulous says:

    This seems to be a ridiculous slap fight between putative adults.

  8. RedOnTheHead says:

    Why would it be so difficult to believe Tarantino lied about his past? Or embellished it? Or just fabricated parts of it? I don’t know whether he did or not but it strikes me as strange that anyone would jump to a place of the NY Post paying off LA cops to get the story they want. What would be the point? Tarantino is a filmmaker, not a national figure. He’s just someone momentarily in the news for making some comments.

    It just seems strange to me to speculate on a conspiracy like that just to defend him.

    • Bridget says:

      The NY Post being the bastion of journalistic integrity?

      • RedOnTheHead says:

        @Bridget: the point of my comment wasn’t to critique the journalistic integrity of the NY Post. The actual media outlet was of no importance in this framework. It could have been any of them. My point was that it’s puzzling to me that the author of this article would quickly jump to speculation about a “conspiracy ” between the NY Post and LA cops as a reason to defend Tarantino instead of objectively wondering whether he did, or did not, lie. Just because he said words about an ongoing important issue doesn’t make him the first bastion of truth. It also doesn’t make him a liar. It does, however, open him up for debate. Same as the people he is talking about. I also don’t consider speculation about something as serious as a conspiracy without proof the height of journalistic integrity.

  9. Loulou says:

    After Brian Williams, nothing would surprise me.

  10. Jwoolman says:

    He wasn’t rich when he said it happened, yes? It’s not unusual for people to go to jail for a few days instead of paying fines for traffic tickets. A friend did that for either tickets or something else minor. He couldn’t afford the fines. As others have said, the records could easily have been expunged by now. The police know that. This is more likely a reaction to his public statements about unnecessary violent actions by some police officers. Some people who never should be issued a badge and a gun do get on police forces and cause endless trouble for civilians and their fellow officers, since they make for very bad community relations. Some police forces are really infested with the bad guys for a variety of reasons, they act like mobsters. I interviewed a local police chief once and he said he tried to weed out the problem individuals early in the recruitment process, but it really required continual vigilance. The really good police officers pride themselves on their ability to do their job without killing anybody or even drawing their gun.

  11. Allie May says:

    With all of the serious issues going on in this world, and they are wasting energy on such an unimportant matter? Apparently, their journalistic standards at the New York Post are quite high (not).