Grammy winning musician Wyclef Jean was detained, handcuffed and subsequently released by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies early Tuesday morning in West Hollywood after they determined he was not the robbery suspect they were looking for, authorities said.
Jean later tweeted that he was put "in cuffs for absolutely nothing."
Deputies with the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station were looking for a black man, armed with a gun, suspected in a robbery at a business just after 1 a.m. near Sunset and North San Vicente boulevards, according to Sgt. Duncan. The man was described wearing a gray or dark colored hoodie and a red bandana, and was last seen fleeing eastbound on Sunset Boulevard in a gold or tan older-model Toyota sedan with paper license plates, according to the sheriff's department.
The victims, a man and woman, told authorities they were outside a store in the 8900 block of West Sunset Boulevard, near the famed Viper Room and Whisky A Go Go bars, when a man pointed a gun at them and took several items, including IDs and money. The man allegedly pressed the gun to the man's head and pistol whipped both individuals, according to a sheriff's department statement.
They called 911 after the man fled with another individual in the car.
Minutes later, deputies observed a vehicle that matched a description provided by the two victims, the sheriff's department said. Authorities pulled over the 2002 tan Toyota with Michigan license plates near West Knoll and Sherwood drives in West Hollywood.
Jean, it turned out, was a passenger in that car.
The driver and passenger both got out of the car as deputies approached, according to a sheriff's department statement. Deputies detained and handcuffed Jean, who was wearing a red bandana at the time, after believing he matched the description of the robber, who was also wearing a red bandana during the crime, Duncan said.
"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 LASD said in a statement. " It is reported that Mr. Jean’s furtive movements included actions such as once he exited the vehicle, he started to walk towards the trunk of the car, questioning why he could not get his things out of his trunk, even though he was clearly instructed by deputies not to approach the trunk. Mr. Jean was also ordered several times not to place his hands near his pockets or his waistband.
"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."
After Jean was questioned, deputies determined he was not the robbery suspect and let him go. He was detained for about six minutes, according to authorities.
A department sergeant explained the reason for the traffic stop to Jean and provided him with her contact information, the sheriff's department said.
Jean tweeted his thoughts on the encounter later Tuesday morning.
"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 tweeted after the incident, along with a cellphone video of himself in handcuffs.
Jean was detained by sheriff's deputies and not police as indicated in his tweets.
"Ya'll see the police have handcuffs on me. They just took off my Haitian bandana. That's what's going on right now with Wyclef and LA right now. The LAPD have me in cuffs for absolutely nothing," Jean is seen saying to the person recording.
As of early Tuesday, Jean had not filed a complaint, made a statement or walked into the station, Duncan 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 department said in a statement. "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."
A short time after Jean was detained, another car matching the description provided by the victims was located about four blocks away. The occupants, a man and woman, were arrested on suspicion of armed robbery.
Deputies found a loaded firearm concealed in the car, a 1995 tan Acura, and property taken from the victims. They were identified as Torrion Falconer, 26, of Lancaster, and Dejuan Hooper, 30, of Inglewood. The suspects were being held on $100,000 bond.
It was not immediately clear whether they have attorneys.