Former Saturday Night Live comedian Jay Pharoah is opening up about the terrifying run-in he had with the LAPD in April. Earlier this week, Pharoah shared a video of their encounter on Instagram, which included a scene of him being ordered to the ground, handcuffed, with one officer’s knee on his neck.
Pharoah said: “As I’m walking across the street, four officers got their guns blazing, they tell me to get on the ground, spread my arms out, they put me in cuffs, the officer took his knee, put it on my neck. It wasn't as long as George Floyd, but I know how that feels.”
Pharoah appeared on CBS‘ Good Morning America to discuss the frightening encounter. Snippets of his conversation about how the encounter was handled, how it should have been handled, and what’s next with Gayle King below:
King: This is before the George Floyd case, so in that moment, what were you thinking when he had his knee on your neck
Pharoah: I just thought why? … Now, I do not have 8 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. … We should never have to feel like our lives are in danger when we're doing regular human activities. I don't want to have to fear for my life when I'm going to Whole Foods and getting some chips and guac, or picking up a kombucha.
King: It's the assumption that bothers you. It doesn't seem like you were given the benefit of the doubt, does it?
Pharoah: That's the thing, Gayle. Black people in America in general. Why do we have to feel like we're guilty until proven innocent? Where the other side gets innocent until proven guilty? … I saw a video yesterday where there was a gentleman and the cop was trying to apprehend him. … The guy ran at him. The cop starts running. … He's running. The suspect then gets in the car, backs out and almost hits the police officer.
Pharoah: It's a terrible feeling that the aftermath of such a terrible situation can cause that much impact on people around you. … I hit up Steve Harvey when it happened. He said, “You got a 'being black in America sandwich.'” And I said that's exactly it. I've eaten it and I know how it tastes.
King: Being black in America sandwich. Yeah, and it don't taste good.
Pharoah: You know what tastes good? Just being a beautiful black person.
King: Yes, that feels good, too.