Wyclef Jean Mistaken For Criminal, Handcuffed By LA Sheriff Deputies

The former Fugees musician vowed to sue the police as he was filmed being placed in handcuffs in a case of mistaken identity.

Wyclef Jean, the Grammy Award-winning artist, was mistaken for a criminal in Los Angeles early Tuesday. The entire ordeal was caught on an Instagram video, and according to the “Gone Till November” singer, he may even sue local authorities.

Calling this “another case of mistaken identity,” Jean tweeted that the entire incident left him “appalled” and that throughout the ordeal, he was “treated like an animal.”

While the former Fugees musician tweeted that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was behind this incident, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesperson confirmed that their deputies were the ones who mistook Jean for a robber.

Officers had been looking for an armed suspect wearing a red bandana. The man was described as an African-American who was wearing a gray or dark-colored hoodie.

The alleged criminal had robbed a gas station and fled the scene in a gold or tan Toyota sedan, a vehicle that reportedly matches the description of Jean's, authorities said.

The 47-year-old musician shared the ordeal on his Instagram account. In the video, he tells officers that he plans to sue the LAPD.

The sheriff's department confirmed that the star was ordered out of the car and then placed in handcuffs but did not call it an arrest. The musician was released once officials determined that he wasn't who they were looking for.

This is not the first time that the Los Angeles law enforcement community is under the spotlight for a similar case of mistaken identity.

During the 2013 manhunt for rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner, LAPD officers opened fire on a car that belonged to two Hispanic delivery women, Margie Carranza and her mother, Emma Hernandez.

Thankfully, the women weren't killed, but the cops who nearly brought an end to their lives over a case of mistaken identity were never criminally charged.

It's utterly incredible that officers continue to make these mistakes without facing any consequences. But perhaps, they are more than mistakes, as the Los Angeles police force, as well as others across the country, are well known for relying heavily on racial profiling instead of competent investigative work. 

Sadly, President Donald Trump condones this racist approach to law enforcement. Along the campaign trail, he consistently vowed to restore “law and order” in predominantly black communities riddled with violence by increasing the presence of police.

Conveniently, he completely overlooked the fact that police brutality is one of the greatest threats to African-Americans and the relationship between blacks and law enforcement is incredibly strained.

Just days after his inauguration, he threatened to “send the feds” into the urban areas of Chicago to quell the “carnage” going on as a result of gun violence. Instead of considering much-needed gun control reform, he’d rather threaten with raids that would, without question, add to the violence.

Trump has made it abundantly clear, time and time again, that he has no idea what black communities need and has no intention of finding out. Even his newly-released budget plan threatens the quality of life for African-Americans throughout the nation.

He proposes major cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, food assistance programs, public education — including eliminating after school programs — and public transportation, all of which working class communities of color benefit greatly from.

During his campaign, in a poorly executed attempt to appeal to black voters, Trump once told African-Americans, “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs; 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?"

Well President Trump, it would appear that black Americans have a whole lot to lose with you as commander in chief. Your presidency has only increased the anxiety and fear of law enforcement that black Americans endure daily and further fueled black voters’ distrust in the government’s promises to improve their communities.  

Jean’s celebrity status likely came in handy during his encounter with law enforcement, preventing the confrontation from escalating further. But most often, average civilians aren’t nearly as lucky.

Check out the video below which explores how some black voices view where they stand in Trump's America.  

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Danny Moloshok 

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