Jay Pharoah Recalls Terrifying Police Encounter Where an Officer Put a Knee on His Neck
By Liz Calvario
While many have been affected by George Floyd's fatal arrest, for others it brings back memories of their previous encounters with police officers. That was the case with Jay Pharoah, who recalled a recent terrifying incident with the police while on a run in Los Angeles during an appearance on Friday's The Talk.
Pharoah shared that he was walking across the street, when he remembers seeing a helicopter flying over his head. "And all of a sudden, I see a gun from my peripheral and I look and the officer is like, ‘Freeze! Get on the ground!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh snap.'"
"They were coming at me, guns blazing, get on the ground, spread your arms like an airplane. Three more officers drove up," he continued. "The officers all surrounded me…It’s hot, corona[virus] is definitely something to be worried about. The police officers didn’t have on gloves. They didn’t have on masks. They said get on the ground. They said I fit the description of a black man with gray sweatpants and a gray shirt."
"When they put me in cuffs, after they were all on me, an officer put his knee on my neck," the former Saturday Night Live cast member detailed, adding that he then told him to search his name to prove that they had the wrong guy. After the police realized that he just "fit the description," Pharaoh asked them to take the handcuffs off.
"I was just trying to exercise. It could have easily turned into another situation if I wasn’t who I am. And the point here is, being black in America is just that, being black in America," he acknowledged. "Other people can’t level with the same fears 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."
"That’s why people everybody is out there protesting. Corona put us in the house and George Floyd took us out of it," he noted.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on May 25 after a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.
Floyd's death, along with several other recent deaths in the black community, has ignited protests against police brutality and racial injustice across the country and around the world. A memorial was held on Tuesday at the Fountain of Praise church in Houston and was presided over by the Rev. Al Sharpton.