Grammy-winning hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean was detained and handcuffed early this morning by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in West Hollywood searching for robbery suspects and sent a series of social-media posts detailing his frustration.
Jean, who was a member of the hip-hop group the Fugees, posted a series of messages on his Twitter account about the incident in which he mistakenly called the sheriff’s deputies the LAPD.
Officer Drake Madison, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, confirmed that the LAPD was not involved in the incident.
Jean’s first tweet at 2:11 a.m. Tuesday featured video of him in handcuffs next to a police vehicle and read: “LAPD another case of mistaken identity. Black man with a red bandana robbed a gas station as I was in the studio working but im in handcuffs?” In the video, Jean says “In L.A. right now coming from the studio … And ya’ll see the police have handcuffs on me. They just took off my Haitian bandana. That’s what’s going on right now with Wyclef in L.A. right now. The LAPD have me in handcuffs for absolutely nothing.”
In a statement from his publicist, Jean said “I was asked by the police to put my hands up. 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 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 some one who has law enforcers in my family, I was appalled by the behavior of the LAPD.”
Lt. Edward Ramirez of the sheriff’s department said the West Hollywood station received a call after 1 a.m. of a robbery that occurred in the area of Sunset Boulevard and Hilldale Drive. A suspect was described as a male black armed with a handgun who pistol-whipped a female and a male before taking personal property.
The suspect was last seen in a gold- or tan-colored vehicle with paper plates, Ramirez said, so deputies began searching for the vehicle in the vicinity of where the incident happened. Deputies then watched a gold- or tan-colored vehicle traveling southbound on West Knoll Drive before it stopped at Sherwood Drive, where a traffic stop was conducted.
“Because this is an incident where a gun was involved and someone was pistol-whipped, deputies are on a heightened sense of awareness,” Ramirez said. The driver and front passenger of the vehicle, who was Jean, got out and were detained.
“We noticed that the passenger (Jean) was wearing a red bandanna, and subsequent to this we determined from information via the radio there was a female black driver and a male black passenger who was the person who did the robbery,” Ramirez said.
The vehicle that was stopped, with Jean inside, had a female driver and a male black passenger. While the two were detained, deputies asked one of the victims if the suspect wore a red bandanna and the victim said yes.
“Mr. Jean, not to say he was not complying, but he was upset and wanted to know why he was stopped,” Ramirez said. “This was an incident where a gun was involved and somebody got pistol-whipped and we’re trying to control the situation. He’s moving his arms about, so we detain him at gunpoint. He complied with verbal commands … we handcuffed and detained him in the back of a patrol car for 6 minutes until we sorted things out.”
Ramirez said deputies tried to explain to Jean why he was detained, but he was upset.
“He believed he was stopped for no reason and illegally detained,” Ramirez said. “We tried to tell him why we detained him.” A sergeant attempted to apologize and gave him a business card and said, “Feel free to call the station later.”
“He kind of stormed off and was upset, which I can see,” Ramirez said.
About four blocks away, the two actual suspects were arrested around the same time as the incident with Jean was wrapping up.
The suspects were in a similar car, a tan or gold vehicle, and the person arrested in connection with the pistol-whipping had a red bandanna on, similar to Jean’s.
Jean’s vehicle did not have paper plates, like the suspects’ vehicle, but it did have Michigan plates on it.
“Some people in California aren’t hip to what other state license plates look like,” Ramirez said.