Wyclef Jean opens up about being detained by police: 'I was scared for my life'


Wyclef Jean is speaking out about his incident with police on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old musician appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday to talk about being detained by Los Angeles sheriffs early Tuesday morning, when he was mistaken for a robbery suspect. Jean said he was "in shock and awe" as he was being pulled over, and that guns were drawn on him. He also explains why he initially said he was going to sue the LAPD, when it was the LA Sheriff's Department that pulled him over.

"The minute this happens, I say I'm going to sue the LAPD because I don't know what's going on," Jean tells GMA's Robin Roberts. "I'm in shock and awe because nobody is telling me this is the sheriff's department. And I fully understand that."

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Jean says he's the victim of racial profiling.

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 07: Singer, rapper, musician and actor Wyclef Jean visits FOX 29 Studio to promote His new EP, titled J'Ouvert on March 7, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Wyclef Jean poses backstage at the Rookie USA fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 3, Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Wyclef Jean and Guest attend the Rookie USA fashion show during, New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 3, Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 06: Musician Wyclef Jean visits Build Series to discuss his new EP 'J'ouvert' at Build Studio on February 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Musician Wyclef Jean visits the SiriusXM Studios on February 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Singer Allyson Casado, rapper Wyclef Jean and singer Jazzy Amra visit SiriusXM Studios on January 30, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT-- 'Broken Rhymes' Episode 1807 -- Pictured: Wyclef Jean as Vincent Love -- (Photo by: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Wyclef Jean attends the Bounce Sporting Club Celebrates Its 5th Anniversary at Bounce Sporting Club on September 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Bounce Sporting Club )
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: Music artist Wyclef Jean attends OZY Fusion Fest 2016 at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on July 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Fusion Fest)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09: Musician Wyclef Jean attends Remy Martin Presents 'The Producers Series: Season 2' Qualifier No. 2 at TAO Downtown on July 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 07: Wyclef Jean visits Music Choice on July 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 04: Wyclef Jean performs onstage during 2016 Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island on June 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for Governors Ball)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 15: Rap artist Wyclef Jean performs during the Wyclef Jean Party at VIP Room JW Marriott during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 15, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Foc Kan/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Musician Wyclef Jean attends Hublot's celebration of it's grand opening of Hublot Fifth Avenue and the 10 year anniversary of it's All Black Collection at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on April 19, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Hublot)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 29: Rapper Wyclef Jean performs in concert at Brooklyn Bowl on March 29, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 03: Betty Wright (L) and Wyclef Jean attend Barry University's 75th Anniversary Birthday Bash at Soho Studios on October 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Barry University)
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"Basically, I feel I was targeted as a black man," he says. "It's clear and it was obvious, because when I was getting out of the car and the way that the cars rushed me, the conversation I was having with them, it was a silent and a deaf conversation. So, as a citizen, I'm saying it's only right that if I'm telling you my name, and who I am, it only take a second with the technology that we have, it only take a button to Google and say, 'This is Wyclef Jean.'"

The "Gone Till November" singer says the incident could have easily escalated.

"So, I stepped up because I have family on both sides of the lens, but I got a chance to see what happens with a citizen versus police firsthand, and I have to tell you, I was scared for my life to the point where I could have acted different, and if I acted different, something else could have happened."

"I'm alive to tell my story," he added.


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A Los Angeles Sheriff's Department spokesperson confirmed to ET on Tuesday that Jean was detained in West Hollywood, California, at around 12:40 a.m.

"The victim that was robbed gave a description of a vehicle and a suspect which matched the vehicle that he [Jean] was a passenger in, and the suspect's description matched his description, that's why he was detained," the spokesperson said.

The Sheriff's Department added that they found the actual suspect vehicle four blocks away "that once again matched [Jean's] vehicle description and the actual suspect which matched [Jean's] description."

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In an official statement, the Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs Department apologized for any inconvenience they caused Jean.

"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 statement reads. "However, Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs are frequently required to make lawful detentions, under the strict parameters provided by law, in the interest of catching often dangerous and armed suspects in our communities and keeping the public safe. 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."

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