Comedian and former Saturday Night Live star Jay Pharoah -- known for his spot-on impressions of Jay-Z, Barack Obama, Denzel Washington, and several others -- posted a video to his Instagram where he shows security footage of LAPD holding him to the ground, putting a knee on his neck, and cuffing him, in what was a case of mistaken identity. "I could have easily been an Ahmaud Arbery or a George Floyd," Pharoah said.
In the video, Pharoah described the harrowing experience in detail. "I see an officer to the left of me. I'm not thinking anything of it because I'm a law-abiding citizen," he begins. "I see him coming with guns blazing, I see him say 'get on the ground, put your hands up like you're an airplane.' As he's looking at me, I'm thinking he's making a mistake, so I'm looking past where he's looking," Pharoah says. "No, he was coming to get me."
He continues, "Four officers get their guns blazing, they tell me to get on the ground, spread my arms out. They put me in cuffs, the officer took his knee, put it on my neck. It wasn't as long as George Floyd, but I know how that feels. I said 'why are you doing this, like what's wrong?' They said 'you fit the description of a black man in this area with grey sweatpants on, and a grey shirt.' I told them 'Google right now, Jay Pharoah, you'll see that you made a big mistake.'"
"A minute later, after I was detained, in cuffs," Pharoah continues, "they come back, they say, 'we're sorry, we just got a call in that it's not you.'"
After telling his experiences, he encourages others to educate themselves so these kinds of things stop happening, and he ends by saying, "I’m Jay Pharaoh and I’m a black man in America and my life matters. Black lives always matter. They always matter." You can watch the powerful and disturbing clip below.
Pharoah speaks about the incident on CBS' The Talk, which airs in full on Monday (6/15) at 2 PM ET. You can watch a clip of the episode now on Deadline.
He also spoke about Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer on Friday; and Robert Fuller, a 24-year old black man found hanging from a tree in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and described by the city as "an alleged death by suicide," despite massive public outcry about that decision being reached without a full investigation or autopsy.
For ways to help out in the fight against racism and police brutality, here are some resources.