ATLANTA (AP) — Reese Witherspoon pleaded no contest and paid a $100 fine after berating a state trooper in Atlanta while her husband was given a sobriety test, an embarrassing exchange caught on a dashboard camera after the usually squeaky-clean Hollywood star had what she called “one too many” glasses of wine.
The video, which was first obtained by TMZ and publicly released by authorities Friday, shows Witherspoon asking the trooper, “Do you know my name?” and then adding, “You're about to find out who I am.”
Witherspoon's exchange with the officer had already been outlined in a police report, but the video offered a rare glimpse at the actress unfiltered. Witherspoon, who has built a wholesome professional image, apologized shortly after her arrest, saying she was “deeply embarrassed.”
Municipal Court of Atlanta Deputy Solicitor Ronda Graham said in a statement that Witherspoon entered the plea and paid the fine, resolving the case.
During an interview with “Good Morning America” on Thursday, Witherspoon said she panicked and said “all kinds of crazy things,” including falsely claiming that she was pregnant at one point. She said during the interview that she had too much to drink before her arrest.
In the video, the 37-year-old argues with the trooper while he attempts to question her husband, Hollywood agent Jim Toth, on an Atlanta street during the pre-dawn hours of April 19.
Toth pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving, Graham said. He was fined $600 and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and participate in a program for DUI offenders.
That is a “standard sentence for a first-time offender,” Graham said.
In the video, Trooper First Class J. Pyland tells Witherspoon to stay in the couple's vehicle no fewer than five times. For her part, Witherspoon is equally determined to get out and engage him, even at one point feigning to be pregnant and saying she needed to use the bathroom.
When the trooper starts to arrest her, she lets loose. The 5-foot-1 Witherspoon turns to yell at him while being handcuffed and accuses the trooper of harassment, at one point prompting him to warn her, “You fight me, I promise you …”
Witherspoon's husband mostly observes the exchange, but tries to calm her after the trooper's warning about resisting arrest.
The dash-com video shows the situation quickly escalating. In one video clip, the trooper appears to be examining Toth when Witherspoon, out of view, starts to get out of her vehicle.
“Ma'am, get back in that car,” the trooper tells her.
She apologizes, and asks if she can say something. “No ma'am,” he says, “get back in that car. I'm not going to repeat myself again.”
Later, when Witherspoon continues to try to intervene, the trooper handcuffs her.
“You better not arrest me! Are you kidding me?” she asks.
“Nope,” he responds.
She protests again, “I'm an American citizen!” The trooper leans toward her and says he told her to stay in the car.
She repeats “This is beyond!” She turns to yell at the trooper as he's handcuffing her and he raises his chin and warns her against resisting arrest.
As Witherspoon is taken out of view, she can be heard asking, “Do you know my name sir?” When he says he doesn't need to, she asks, “You don't need to know my name?” He says “Not quite yet,” and she adds, “Oh really. OK, you're about to find out who I am.”
The trooper responds, “That's fine. I'm not real worried about you, ma'am. I done told you how things worked. You want to get out and get up in my investigation, that's OK.”
No one from the Georgia State Patrol leaked the video before its official release on Friday, agency spokesman Gordy Wright said. The only copy that had been made earlier was for the prosecutor, Wright said.
The star of hit movies such as “Walk The Line,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Election” said during her interview that “there are so many lessons learned.”
“When a police officer tells you to stay in the car, you stay in the car,” she said. “I learned that for sure. I learned a lot.”