Jay Pharoah revealed last week that he was detained by Los Angeles Police, who kneeled on his neck, back in February. The former Saturday Night Live cast member, posted a video that included security footage of the incident to his Instagram page last Friday.
The comedian said he was startled by the police approaching him as he was exercising and wearing noise canceling headphones that made it difficult for him to understand what was happening. He added that as a “law abiding citizen” he was sure they were headed for someone else.
In the clip, four officers head towards him with their guns drawn. “They tell me to get on the ground, spread my arms out,” Pharoah says in the video.
Shortly after, one of the officers kneeled on his neck despite the fact that he was cooperating with their instructions. “The officer took his knee, put it on my neck, it wasn’t as long as George Floyd but uh I know how that feels,” added Pharoah.
According to NBC News, The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement that the incident is “under investigation with our Professional Standards Bureau, Internal Affairs Division.”
When Pharoah asked why he was being detained, he was reportedly told that he “fit the description of a Black man in this area with gray sweatpants on and a gray shirt.”
Pharoah, who starred in the Showtime series White Famous, told the officers they could Google him to learn that they had “made a big mistake.” But it wasn’t until receiving a call from another officer verifying that Pharoah wasn’t who they were after that the officers released him.
“Black lives always matter. My life matters. I’m still here to tell my story,” Pharoah said in the video.
The comedian is revealing the incident in light of George Floyd’s murder in which former White police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the Black man’s neck for nearly nine minutes, killing him last month. Since then, the world has erupted into protests about Floyd’s killing, police brutality and racism.
“I literally could’ve been George Floyd,” he added. “We as a country can’t breathe anymore, and we are tired. We are sick and we are tired of it — I can’t breathe!”