Haitian-American Hip-Hop artist Wyclef Jean was mistaken for a robbery suspect by sheriff’s in Los Angeles.
Yesterday, Wyclef posted a video on social media – which was recorded by Detroit female rapper T-Baby who was traveling with him, of himself being handcuffed and detained by Los Angeles County Sheriff officers.
Wyclef says he was leaving a studio recording session when he was pulled over and “immediately handcuffed and treated like a criminal” before being asking him to identify himself or being told why.
He says he told officers his name and that they had the wrong person but he was ignored until other officers arrived and identified him. A spokesperson for Wyclef later released a statement saying he was “subject to police brutality, racial profiling, police bias and the ongoing discriminatory practices of law enforcement.”
The sheriff’s department said Wyclef was lawfully stopped and detained for 6 minutes by deputies looking for a violent armed robber who was described as being in a similar vehicle and dressed in similar clothing – including wearing a red print bandana.
Officers said “Due to the violent nature of the armed robbery, similarity of the suspect vehicle, the time of day, and Wyclef’s demeanor, he was handcuffed.”
Wyclef later tweeted “LAPD another case of mistaken identity. Black man with red bandana robbed a gas station as I was in the studio working but I’m in handcuffs?” and “As someone who has law enforcers in my family, I was appalled by the behavior of the LAPD”. He also threatened to sue.
The actual robbery suspect was later arrested and police officials have since apologized to Wycelf for the inconvenience. Wyclef – who has threatened to sue, is calling for the chief of police and the mayor of Los Angeles to investigate the matter, and for support from the ACLU and Black Lives Matter organizations.