Music artist Wyclef Jean took to social media Tuesday after he was mistaken for a robber and detained by deputies in West Hollywood, saying he was “treated like a criminal.”
Shortly after Jean was detained and then released, deputies arrested two other suspects in the robbery. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement apologizing for the inconvenience caused to Jean and confirming the singer “had no involvement whatsoever in this violent crime.”
The incident began when deputies responded to an armed robbery call near the Hustler Hollywood store at 8920 Sunset Blvd. about 1 a.m., said sheriff’s Sgt. Walker. The victims told investigators they had been pistol-whipped and robbed, Walker said.
In a news release issued late Tuesday morning, the Sheriff’s Department said the two victims — a man and a woman — reported they were standing in the parking lot of a store when a black man walked up to them, pointed a gun at them and demanded “everything they had.”
“The suspect is alleged to have traumatized the two victims by pressing the firearm onto the male’s temple and pistol whipping them both,” the release stated. “The victims, fearing for their lives, gave the suspect their possessions containing identification and money.”
The victims said the assailant got into the passenger-side door of an older-model gold or tan Toyota or Honda sedan with paper dealer plates. Another person drove the vehicle away, north on Hilldale Avenue, then east on Sunset Boulevard and south on San Vicente Boulevard, the release stated.
Deputies began searching for the suspects and instead pulled over Jean, who was a passenger in a 2002 tan Toyota with Michigan plates, the Sheriff’s Department said. The car was less than a mile from the scene of the robbery. Deputies followed the car till it stopped a few blocks away, in the 700 block of West Knoll Drive.
As deputies approached, Jean and the female driver “almost simultaneously began to exit the vehicle,” the release stated.
“Due to the violent nature of the call (armed robbery), the similarity of the suspect vehicle to Mr. Jean’s vehicle, the time of day of the unfolding detention and Mr. Jean’s furtive movements and demeanor, he was handcuffed,” the sheriff’s release stated.
Jean questioned why he couldn’t get things out of the car’s trunk, the department stated.
“Out of an abundance of caution, a pat down search for weapons was also conducted of Mr. Jean’s person and he was subsequently secured inside the backseat of a patrol vehicle,” the release continued.
Jean posted a video on Twitter showing himself in handcuffs, apparently recorded by the female driver of the car.
LAPD another case of mistaken identity. Black man with red bandana robbed a gas station as I was in the studio working but im in handcuffs? pic.twitter.com/vjRfJUkooA
— Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) March 21, 2017
“LAPD another case of mistaken identity. Black man with red bandana robbed a gas station as I was in the studio working but im in handcuffs?” Jean wrote.
Jean also tweeted that he was being “treated like a criminal” and was “appalled” by the behavior of the authorities.
“I am sure no father wants his sons or daughters to see him in Handcuffs especially if he is innocent,” he tweeted.
Although Jean thought the officers were from the Los Angeles Police Department, he was actually detained by Sheriff’s Department deputies, who police West Hollywood under contract.
The deputies realized Jean was not the robbery suspect “within approximately six minutes,” the Sheriff’s Department said. A veteran sheriff’s sergeant who was there gave her business card to Jean and offered to discuss his detention with him further.
He has not contacted the Sheriff’s Department, the release stated.
Soon after Jean was let go, just four blocks away another vehicle matching the suspects’ description was spotted.
The 1995 tan/gold Acura with paper plates was stopped by deputies. Inside the car, deputies found concealed a loaded firearm as well as property belonging to the victims of the robbery.
The passenger of the car, Torrion Falconer, a 26-year-old black male resident of Lancaster, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm and having a loaded firearm concealed in a vehicle.
Dejuan Hooper, the 30-year-old black female driver, an Inglewood resident, was booked on suspicion of robbery and possession of a controlled substance.
Both suspects are being held on $100,000 bail.
Video showed deputies arresting the alleged robber near North Kings Road and Santa Monica Boulevard.
The Sheriff’s Department issued this statement:
It is unfortunate that Mr. Jean was detained for six minutes during this investigation, as he had no involvement whatsoever in this violent crime. 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.
The department also noted that the victims in the robbery initially said the assailant work a dark-colored hoodie, they later said the man had a possibly gray hoodie and a red or grey bandana draped around his neck.
Jean had on a dark-colored shirt and a red-and-blue bandana on his head, the department said. Falconer wore a dark-gray hoodie.
KTLA’s Gabriel Orendain-Necochea contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Sgt. Walker as a member of the LAPD.