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Wyclef mistaken for robbery suspect, detained in Los Angeles

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Wyclef Jean appears at the Diesel Black Gold fashion show in New York in 2015. Jean said he was unfairly detained by authorities in Los Angeles County after being mistaken for a robbery suspect. Jean posted a video on Twitter showing himself in handcuffs leaned over a patrol car. The former Fugees star said he tried to explain that he wasn’t the suspect but was ignored and cuffed.

LOS ANGELES >> Grammy Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean said he was unfairly detained early today in Los Angeles County after he was mistaken for an armed robbery suspect, but while apologizing for the inconvenience officials say he was lawfully stopped by deputies looking for a violent armed robber whose victims’ described a similar vehicle and article of clothing.

The former Fugees star posted a video on Twitter showing himself in handcuffs leaned over a patrol car in West Hollywood after authorities said he matched the description of a suspect with a gun who was being sought for an armed robbery. Jean had said he was stopped by Los Angeles police, but he was actually detained by sheriff’s deputies in neighboring West Hollywood.

“I was asked by the police to put my hands up. Then I was told, ‘Do not move.’ I was instantly hand cuffed before being asked to identify myself and before being told why,” Jean said. “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.”

In a statement, sheriff’s officials said Jean was riding in a car that matched the description of the vehicle reported in the violent armed robbery that occurred a few minutes before Jean was stopped.

The robbery victims told sheriff’s deputies that they were sitting in a parking lot when a man walked up to them, pistol whipped the two, pressed the gun against the head of one of the victims and demanded they give him everything they had.

Deputies who were patrolling nearby spotted a car that was nearly identical to the description of the assailant’s vehicle and followed the car until it pulled over in West Hollywood, the statement said. The driver and Jean, a passenger in the car, exited the vehicle as the deputies approached.

Both Jean and the suspect reportedly had on dark shirts and a similar colored bandanna, authorities said. The sheriff’s department said deputies then detained Jean, “who they believed to the suspect in the violent crime,” handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a patrol car.

Sheriff’s officials said Jean was repeatedly ordered not to place his hands near his pockets or waistband and not to go near the trunk of the car. Jean was patted down for weapons and put in the back of a deputy sheriff’s patrol car “out of an abundance of caution,” the statement said.

Officials said deputies learned within six minutes that Jean and the female driver of the car were not suspects in the crime and released them. Two suspects were later arrested on suspicion of committing the robbery, officials said.

“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 said. “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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Associated Press Entertainment Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.

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