Former Saturday Night Live star Jay Pharoah had a scary altercation with police officers in what was said to be a case of mistaken identity, and the comedian has since released a video of the harrowing experience online. The incident occurred back in February, when Jay was out for a jog on a street in the San Fernando Valley. Based on claims from LAPD officers that he matched the description of a suspect they were pursuing, Pharaoh was detained with one officer even kneeling on his neck at one point. The entire altercation was captured by a security camera, and Pharaoh has just released the footage through a video posted to his Instagram account.
As Jay narrates the situation, a video shows an LAPD officer approaching Pharaoh from behind with his firearm drawn. Moments later, another officer comes into view with a gun raised, followed by two more cops stepping in moments later when their cruiser arrives on the scene. The ordeal happens in just a matter of moments, and it was difficult for Pharaoh to process what was happening. Pharaoh was then told that he matched a description as officers were looking for “a black man with gray sweatpants and a gray shirt.” It wasn’t until after he was cuffed and took a knee to the neck when the officers realized they had detained a celebrity, and Pharoah says the cops then released him just “a minute later.”
The video is horrifying just to watch, and it’s made all the more eerie given the comparisons to this event and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Just days after Pharoah’s scuffle with the LAPD, Arbery was gunned down by local residents while jogging outside, exactly what Pharaoh had been doing. Last month, Floyd was killed after he was cuffed and pinned to the ground by multiple police officers, with one kneeling directly on the victim’s neck. These similarities are also a part of why Pharaoh chose to release the footage online, demonstrating just how often this kind of thing happens in the United States to people of color. “I could have easily been an Ahmaud Arbery or a George Floyd,” Pharaoh states in the video.
“It could have easily turned into another situation if I wasn’t who I am,” Pharaoh said of the experience on The Talk, highlighting the issues faced by those in the black community who don’t happen to be famous. “And the point here is being black in America, is just that, being black in America. Other people can’t level with the same fears I have. Leaving the house, we should not have to fear going to the grocery store, going to get some gas, running down the street. It’s called human civility. That’s what it is. It’s about being a human.”
According to TMZ, the LAPD has confirmed that they have seen the video and are currently investigating the situation. Pharaoh can also be seen talking about the ordeal in full when he appears on The Talk on Monday, June 15, at 2 p.m. ET on CBS. The video shown above comes to us from Jay Pharaoh on Instagram.