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Wyclef Jean mistaken for robbery suspect, briefly detained

Wyclef Jean says he was handcuffed while mistakenly

Wyclef Jean says he was handcuffed while mistakenly detained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Credit: Getty Images / Gustavo Caballero

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has apologized to Grammy Award-winning rapper and music producer Wyclef Jean for detaining him briefly early Tuesday morning while investigating a robbery.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Jean was detained for six minutes during this investigation, as he had no involvement whatsoever in this violent crime,” the department wrote on its Facebook page. While saying that sheriff’s deputies “are frequently required to make lawful detentions” while seeking suspects, “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is apologetic for any inconvenience this process caused Mr. Jean. We are grateful we were able to apprehend the robbery suspects and that no one was seriously injured.”

The department said that two victims of a robbery and pistol-whipping in West Hollywood at 12:46 a.m. described “a gold or tan Toyota or Honda, older model sedan with paper license plates.” A short distance from the crime scene, deputies stopped a “2002 tan Toyota with Michigan license plates” in which Jean, 47, was a passenger. The car had “pulled over along the 700 block of West Knoll Drive, apparently reaching its intended destination.” As Jean and the others were exiting, he was detained.

“L.A., right now, coming from the studio with [Detroit-based rapper] T-Baby. Y’all see the police have handcuffs on me,” Jean, 47, says in an unknown person’s cellphone video, posted on Twitter, documenting the police stop. “They just took off my Haitian bandanna. That’s what’s going on right now with Wyclef in L.A. right now. The L.A.P.D. [sic] have me in cuffs for absolutely nothing.”

The Los Angeles Police Department later tweeted that, “This morning @wyclef erroneously tweeted that he had been detained by the #LAPD. We can confirm that we WERE NOT involved in that incident.” The sheriff’s department said that after Jean was released, a sergeant on the scene gave him her business card “and offered Mr. Jean the opportunity to discuss the matter further if he so desired.”

“Why am I in Handcuffs!!!!!?????” Jean, a former member of the Fugees wrote on Twitter. “This is what I said to the LAPD [sic] after they put me in Handcuffs,” he added. Jean also linked to a since-removed Instagram video in which, according to NBC News, he said he planned to file a lawsuit against the police.

“I was asked by the police to Put my hands up,” his tweets continued. “Then I was told do not move. I was instantly hand cuffed before being asked to identify myself. Nor was I told why I was being cuffed. 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 until other police showed up and pointed out they had wrong person.”

He added, “As some one who has law enforcers in my family, I was appalled by this behavior of the LAPD.”


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