Jay Pharoah opened up to Gayle King about a frightening run-in with Los Angeles police during Wednesday’s CBS This Morning.
The former Saturday Night Live cast member said he was stopped by police in April while jogging, and that he had not discussed his experience, which was captured on video, until recently for fear of taking away from discussions of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. But now he’s ready to discuss what happened.
“I’m walking across the street and then all of a sudden I hear, ‘Get on the ground,’” Pharoah said. “The cop from the left of me... he’s coming. He’s got his gun out. I don’t know what’s happening.”
“I don’t have any run-ins with the law,” Pharoah said. “I’ve never even had a ticket. I’ve never had guns pointed at me. I’ve never had handcuffs put on me.”
The comedian said police told him to lay on the ground and spread out his arms “like an airplane.” At that point, he said, an officer put his knee on the base of his neck and handcuffed him. “I’m shocked, I’m scared, I don’t know why I’m being detained. I’m just totally confused right now.” At that point, he said, the police pulled him up and told him he matched the description of someone they were looking for, who had fled a scene from police: a black man in grey sweatpants and a grey shirt.
“Luckily they pulled me up and I got out of it,” Pharoah said. “But it’s like, why does it have to go to that extremity when I’m an innocent bystander? We should never have to feel like our lives are in danger when we’re doing regular human activities. I don’t want to have to fear for my life when I’m going to Whole Foods.”
Pharoah first shared a video about the encounter last week on Instagram. In a statement to CBS the Los Angeles Police Department said, “We are aware of this video. It is under investigation.”
“Black people in America or in general—why do we have to feel like we’re guilty until proven innocent,” Pharoah continued, “when the other side gets innocent until proven guilty?”
After a few minutes, Pharoah said, police told him they’d gotten a call that he was not the man they were looking for and apologized. But, he said, “That’s not enough.”