Wyclef Jean was briefly detained and handcuffed in Los Angeles after police mistook him for a robbery suspect, The New York Times reports. The incident occurred Tuesday night after Jean left the studio. It was captured on a video the musician later posted to Twitter.
In the clip, Jean stands next to a patrol car with his hands behind his back and says, “LA, right now, coming from the studio, y’all see the police have handcuffs on me. They just took off my Haitian bandanna. That’s what’s going on right now with Wyclef in LA right now. The LAPD have me in cuffs for absolutely nothing.”
LAPD another case of mistaken identity. Black man with red bandana robbed a gas station as I was in the studio working but im in handcuffs? pic.twitter.com/vjRfJUkooA
Sergeant C. Duncan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Jean was detained for six minutes while officers were investigating a report that a man and woman had been robbed at gunpoint and beaten near the studio where Jean was working.
The victims described the suspect as a black man in a dark hoodie who fled in a gold or tan Toyota. At about 1:25 a.m. police pulled over a car matching that description. A woman, later identified as Jean’s manager, was driving and the musician sat in the driver’s seat. Police detained Jean after seeing his red bandanna and contacting the victims, who at that point said that the suspect had also been wearing a red bandanna.
However, the victims specified there had not been a woman in the getaway car. The officers were also informed that the real suspect had been arrested elsewhere.
Jean was released after six minutes, said Sgt. Duncan. The rapper posted a video of the incident and said on Twitter: “I was instantly hand cuffed before being asked to identify myself. Nor was I told why I was being cuffed. In the process I said my name and told them they have [the] wrong person. They proceeded to ignore me and I was treated like a criminal until other police showed up and pointed out they had [the] wrong person.” Jean added, “As some one who has law enforcers in my family, I was appalled by they behavior of the LAPD.”
Sgt. Duncan responded to Jean’s statement that he identified himself, saying, “Just because someone tells me their name I have to verify it through legal means.”
Later on Tuesday, the musician’s rep issued a statement alleging police brutality and racial profiling. “After the vehicle he was being liveried in was pulled over and from which he was brutally removed from the vehicle and subject to police brutality, racial profiling, police bias and the ongoing discriminatory practices of law enforcement officials which remain rampant throughout the United States and for which the LA Sheriff’s office is deeming a case of mistaken identity,” the rep said.
The singer requested a “formal investigation into racial profiling.”