(TIML NEWS) Grammy winner Wyclef Jean was “scared for my life” when Los Angeles police “targeted” him “as a black man” when they mistook him for a robbery suspect”, the rapper said Wednesday.
“I have family on both sides of the lens but I got a chance to see what happens with a citizen versus a police firsthand, and I have to tell you, I was scared for my life to the point where I could’ve acted different,” Jean said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “And if I acted different, something else would’ve happened.”
The former Fugees frontman, 47, was pulled over outside his hotel just after 5 a.m. Tuesday by officers from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department searching for a bandanna-wearing suspect in a recent armed robbery.
Jean, who at the time was wearing a bandanna with his native Haitian flag on it, claimed he was “brutally removed” from the car, handcuffed and detained for six minutes — even though he identified himself to cops.
“The number one thing, when I was pulled over and when I got out the car, I was not told why,” Jean said.
The ordeal was caught on camera, showing Jean cuffed from behind and calmly saying, “Y’all see the police have handcuffs on me. They just took off my Haitian bandanna. That’s what’s going on with Wyclef in LA right now.”
The father of one said he was racially profiled and is now calling for a formal investigation into the actions of the police.
“The point that I want to make, and the racial profiling point, is that basically I feel that I was targeted as a black man,” he said. “This not a conversation about Wyclef versus the police at all but it’s a conversation about treating citizens rightly. Was the police doing their job? Yes, police was doing their job, but the part of the job that they did not do right is the idea of me being a citizen and the idea of putting me in cuffs.”
The LA sheriff’s office apologized for “any inconvenience this process caused Mr. Jean.”
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Jean was detained for six minutes during this investigation, as he had no involvement whatsoever in this violent crime,” the sheriff’s department said.
Jean, who said he was treated like a criminal, added: “I don’t only have the right to be upset but I have the right to basically challenge the judicial system as a citizen.”