Sheriff’s Department Defends Treatment of Wyclef Jean
Rapper Wyclef Jean has received an apology of sorts from Los Angeles authorities after he was mistaken for an armed robbery suspect and handcuffed early on Tuesday. The car the Fugees star was a passenger in was pulled over by officers from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department in West Hollywood because it matched the description of a getaway vehicle used in a nearby petrol station crime. The suspect was described as a black male, wearing a red or grey bandana around his neck — an accessory Wyclef also sported at the time of his run-in with police, who handcuffed the musician and placed him in the back of a cop car for around six minutes, before realizing he was not the person they had been looking for. Wyclef took to social media after the incident to rant about how officers had handled the situation, insisting he wasn’t given the opportunity to properly identify himself and was immediately “treated like a criminal.” Now the L.A. County Sheriff has spoken out about the controversy, defending his deputies for cuffing Jean, maintaining he was in the wrong for trying to walk around to the trunk of the car and reach for his trouser pockets, despite being warned a number of times not to move, reports TMZ. “Due to the violent nature of the call (armed robbery), the similarity of the suspect vehicle to Mr. Jean’s vehicle… and Mr. Jean’s furtive movements and demeanor, he was handcuffed,” the Sheriff explains. He insists it was a “reasonable” and “lawful detention,” but adds officials are “apologetic for any inconvenience this process caused Mr. Jean.” At the time of his detention, Jean vowed to sue over the case of mistaken identity, and he is standing by his version of events in a statement issued in response to the Sheriff’s remarks. “I was asked by the police to put my hands up,” he recalls, echoing the sentiments expressed on Twitter. “Then I was told, ‘Do not move.’ I was instantly handcuffed before being asked to identify myself and before being told why. “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. I am sure no father wants his sons or daughters to see him in Handcuffs especially if he is innocent. As someone who has law enforcers in my family, I was appalled by the behavior of the LAPD (sic).” Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) bosses have since clarified they were not involved in the brief bust, which was handled solely by the Sheriff’s Department. The real suspect was arrested shortly after the star’s dispute with police, just blocks away from where the singer had been stopped.