Jay Pharoah Details Recent Encounter With LAPD Involving an Officer Kneeling on His Neck

Brea Cubit
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 11: Actor Jay Pharoah attends The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


Saturday Night Live alum Jay Pharoah has shared a video in which he is stopped by the police while jogging in Los Angeles. The security camera footage, which he posted on Friday, shows four officers stopping Jay with their guns drawn, ordering him to the ground before one of the officers begins kneeling on his neck. The incident occurred in April, a week before news broke of the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery. In the Instagram clip, Jay speaks about what happened, saying, "I could have easily been an Ahmaud Arbery or a George Floyd."

Jay also opened up about the encounter in an interview with CBS's The Talk, which will air in its entirety on Monday, June 15. He detailed the experience, saying he was first approached by one officer who told him to get down. "Three more officers drove up, hopped out of the car immediately, guns blazing. . . . It's hot, corona is definitely something to be worried about at this moment, the police officers, they didn't have on gloves, they didn't have on masks," he said. "They just said, 'Get on the ground.' They said I fit the description of a Black man with gray sweatpants and a gray shirt. The officer literally just looked at my clothes and said, 'You fit the description.' When they put me in cuffs, after they were all on me, an officer put his knee on my neck. . . . It was totally gratuitous. They didn't have to do that."

The actor told the police to Google his name, saying, "You will see that you made a big mistake." The officers then let Jay go after receiving a call confirming he wasn't the suspect they'd been pursuing. "I was just trying to exercise," Jay said. "It could have easily turned into another situation if I wasn't who I am. And the point here is that being Black in America is just that: being Black in America. Other people can't level with the same fears that I have leaving the house. We should not have to fear going to the grocery store, going to get some gas, running down the street. It's called human civility. That's what it is. It's about being a human."