The 47-year-old musician appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday to talk about being detained by Los Angeles sheriffs early Tuesday morning, when he was mistaken for a robbery suspect. Jean said he was "in shock and awe" as he was being pulled over, and that guns were drawn on him. He also explains why he initially said he was going to sue the LAPD, when it was the LA Sheriff's Department that pulled him over.
"The minute this happens, I say I'm going to sue the LAPD because I don't know what's going on," Jean tells GMA's Robin Roberts. "I'm in shock and awe because nobody is telling me this is the sheriff's department. And I fully understand that."
"Basically, I feel I was targeted as a black man," he says. "It's clear and it was obvious, because when I was getting out of the car and the way that the cars rushed me, the conversation I was having with them, it was a silent and a deaf conversation. So, as a citizen, I'm saying it's only right that if I'm telling you my name, and who I am, it only take a second with the technology that we have, it only take a button to Google and say, 'This is Wyclef Jean.'"
The "Gone Till November" singer says the incident could have easily escalated.
"So, I stepped up because I have family on both sides of the lens, but I got a chance to see what happens with a citizen versus police firsthand, and I have to tell you, I was scared for my life to the point where I could have acted different, and if I acted different, something else could have happened."
A Los Angeles Sheriff's Department spokesperson confirmed to ET on Tuesday that Jean was detained in West Hollywood, California, at around 12:40 a.m.
"The victim that was robbed gave a description of a vehicle and a suspect which matched the vehicle that he [Jean] was a passenger in, and the suspect’s description matched his description, that's why he was detained," the spokesperson said.
The Sheriff's Department added that they found the actual suspect vehicle four blocks away "that once again matched [Jean's] vehicle description and the actual suspect which matched [Jean's] description."
In an official statement, the Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs Department apologized for any inconvenience they caused Jean.
"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 statement reads. "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."