Wyclef Jean opened up about being mistaken for an armed robbery suspect during a live interview with Good Morning America on Wednesday, March 22. Watch the video above.
As previously reported, Jean, 47, was pulled over and handcuffed by authorities while heading back to his hotel in L.A. on Tuesday. He tweeted that the Los Angeles Police Department was involved, but NBC News later clarified that the star was actually approached by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies.
Jean explained in detail what happened to him to ABC’s Robin Roberts. He said that authorities were looking for a car with a paper license plate, but that his vehicle didn’t have a paper plate.
“After I got out of the car, I have my backpack on, I’m coming from the recording studio. I’m automatically rushed,” he claimed to Roberts. “When I’m rushed, guns are drawn, which is the part you don’t see … I’m pulled over.”
Jean says that he was “in shock and awe” during the incident and that no one told him why he was being handcuffed. “I say, ‘Well, my name is Wyclef Jean.’ Then I’m taken and put in handcuffs in the back,” he recalled. “The point I want to make and the racial profiling is that basically I feel like I was targeted as a black man. It is clear and 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 death conversation. So as a citizen, I feel that, it is only right that if I am 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 and say, ‘This is Wyclef Jean.'”
Jean was detained after an armed robbery at a gas station in West Hollywood around 1 a.m. He posted videos of his arrest after he was released.
“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,” he said on Wednesday. “I have to tell you, I was scared for my life to the point where I could have acted different and if I had, something different could have happened.”
The West Hollywood police department released a statement to Us Weekly about the matter. They were able to determine that Jean was not the suspect, and that the actual suspect was located just blocks from the musician and charged with robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm.