Jay Pharoah is opening up about the phone call he had with his parents after wrongfully being targeted by police while on a run in Los Angeles.
Jay Pharoah is opening up about his parents’ reaction to his frightening encounter with law enforcement last year.
In a sneak peek at Monday’s episode of Taraji P. Henson’s Facebook Watch series Peace of Mind, the former Saturday Night Live star, 33, shared how his mother and father reacted after learning about the incident, in which Pharoah said an officer placed a knee on his neck during a case of mistaken identity last April.
“I called and talked to my mom, she was on the phone,” Pharoah told Henson, 50. “Of course my dad was in the background. But my mom was just — I could hear it in her voice. I could hear the shakiness, the ‘what if.’ ”
He continued: “And that’s what she said, ‘We could have lost you today, had it been different.’ She was like, ‘You really need to thank God.’ I said, ‘I do thank God. But Mom, I’m just mad right now. I’m in a way that I’ve never been mad before. Because I’ve never experienced this.’ ”
While his mother “felt totally helpless” about the incident, Pharoah said his father “was just trying to figure out what was going on.”
“And I have to give it up for my peoples for just keeping me away from that,” Pharoah added of his parents. “Just ’cause, both of them from the hood. But they’ve tried to shelter me in a way where I don’t have to deal with that. And at the end of the day, I dealt with it. There was nothing that could be done. So I know that moment for them had to spark emotion as well.”
Pharoah first shared the story and security camera footage of the encounter in June, amid ongoing protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. In an interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning that July, the star said that he was walking across the street when a group of officers approached him and instructed him to get on the ground and spread his arms out
After he complied, “The officer comes, he gets on top of me, he puts his knee on me … he puts on the cuffs,” Pharoah recalled to King.
Eventually, Pharoah said the officers pulled him up and told him he fit the description of a black man in gray sweatpants and a gray shirt, which the comedian was also wearing. Asked how he thought they should have approached him, Pharoah said, “I think the right way to handle the situation would have been for the cops to calmly come up to me, since they see I don’t have anything on me. They should have been like, ‘Hey man, we’re having a problem right now, we ask you if you have your ID, because there’s somebody who just fled the scene from police officers and we’re looking for him.’ ”
According to Pharoah, he informed the cops that he didn’t have his ID on him but that they could Google his name. “A couple of minutes later, they came back and they said, ‘Oh, we got a call that you’re not the guy. Sorry,’ ” he said, “That’s not enough.”
Comedian @JayPharoah is opening up about a disturbing encounter with police in April. He shared video of being stopped & an officer placing a knee on his neck in a case of mistaken identity.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 17, 2020
Reflecting on being pinned to the ground, Pharoah said to King, “I just thought, why? Now, I do not have eight minutes and 46 seconds of an officer being on top of me like that, obstructing my airway and choking me. I don’t have that. Luckily, they pulled me up and I got out of it. But it’s like, why does it have to go to that extremity, when I’m an innocent bystander?”
Pharoah also said that his parents were distraught when he told them the story.
“I called my mom and told her what happened. My dad was on the phone, too. My mom started crying,” he said. “It’s a terrible feeling that the aftermath of a terrible situation can cause that much impact on people around you.”
So glad this story didn’t end another way and that Jay is alive and unharmed physically to talk about it.