Wyclef Jean Says He Was ‘Targeted As A Black Man’ When Mistakenly Detained By Police

Ford Springer | Contributor

Wyclef Jean joined “Good Morning America” on Wednesday where he said he felt he was “targeted as a black man” and was scared for his life when he was mistakenly identified and detained by police on Tuesday.

The Grammy Award-winning artist was pulled over, handcuffed and detained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department early Tuesday morning. Police have reported that Jean’s vehicle matched the description of a suspect in an armed robbery that morning.

Jean now plans to sue because the way he was treated when he was mistakenly identified in connection with the crime. He recounted the unfortunate incident Wednesday morning with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America.”

“Basically I feel that I was targeted as a black man. It’s clear and it was obvious because when I was getting out of the car and the way that the cops rushed me, the conversation that I was having with them, it was a silent and a deaf conversation,” Jean said.

“As a citizen, I feel that it’s only right that if I’m telling you my name and who I am, it only takes a second with the technology that we have to basically press a button and Google it and say, ‘This is Wyclef Jean,'” he continued.

“I have family on both sides of the lens,” Jean explained having family members in law enforcement, “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 have acted different. And if I acted different, something else would have happened to me,” Jean 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.”

“For me, this is bigger than a black-and-white issue,” he told Roberts. “The part of the issue and the long conversation that we have to have is how do we establish real relationships with the police and the citizen.”

According to the sheriff’s department, when deputies approached Jean’s vehicle he and the other passenger “simultaneously began to exit the vehicle.” When this happened “deputies attempted to detain who they believed to be the suspect of the violent crime.”

In a statement following the incident, the sheriff’s department admitted, “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 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is apologetic for any inconvenience this process caused Mr. Jean. We are grateful we were able to apprehend the robbery suspects and that no one was seriously injured.”

Ford Springer

Contributor

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