Former “Saturday Night Live” star Jay Pharoah said Friday that in February, a police officer kneeled on his neck in a case of mistaken identity. Pharoah released surveillance footage of the encounter along with a message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the 4-minute video, posted to Instagram, the 32-year-old comedian said he was exercising in Los Angeles a few months ago when a police officer ordered him to get on the ground.
“I see an officer to the left of me. I’m not thinking anything of it, because I’m a law-abiding citizen,” Pharoah said. “The officer, I see him coming with guns blazing. I see him say, ‘get on the ground. Put your hands up like you’re an airplane.'”
As Pharoah narrates the story, surveillance footage appears to show his encounter with four LAPD officers.
“Four officers got their guns blazing,” he continues. “They tell me to get on the ground, spread my arms out, they put me in cuffs, the officer took his knee, put it on my neck.”
According to the video, Pharoah did what the officers said, but asked why they were arresting him.
“They said, ‘You fit the description of a black man in this area with grey sweatpants on and a grey shirt,'” he said.
Pharoah told them to Google his name to prove that they were arresting the wrong man. He said they apologized and let him go, but compared his experience to that of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis last month after nearly nine minutes with a police officer’s knee on his neck. Pharoah said he knows “how that feels.”
The Los Angeles Police Department told USA Today that it is “looking into the incident” and the footage. The LAPD also said they have provided Pharoah with a document to file a misconduct complaint.
The LAPD did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.
Pharoah said that he grew up in the suburbs, with parents who sheltered him and his sister from many of the impacts of racism in the U.S. “I didn’t experience first-hand racism in America until this year,” he said.
Pharoah also urged his followers to educate themselves on the law in order to protect themselves during encounters with law enforcement. He said he could have “easily been an Ahmaud Arbery or a George Floyd” and he concluded with a message of support.
“I’m Jay Pharoah and I’m a black man in America,” he said. “And my life matters. Black lives always matter. They always matter.”