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Jay Pharoah said his mother 'felt totally helpless' and his father was 'emotional' after he was wrongfully detained by the LAPD

jay pharoah karen

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Jay Pharoah recalled phoning his parents after being wrongfully detained by the Los Angeles Police Department this summer.

While speaking with Taraji P. Henson on her Facebook Live series, Pharoah opened up about the emotional toll the incident initially took on his family. In June, Pharoah said that he was detained by LAPD officers in a case of mistaken identity and one officer put a knee on his neck during the incident.

"I called and talked to my mom, she was on the phone. 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,'" said Pharoah.

Pharoah went on to describe the mixed emotions he felt in the aftermath of his wrongful detainment.

"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. In a way that I've never been mad before. Because I've never experienced this," he added.

Pharaoh, a 33-year-old "Saturday Night Live" alum who took credit for coining the term "Karen," said his mother "felt totally helpless," while his father was "emotional" because he had also faced profiling during his life.

"So she felt totally helpless, and my dad was just trying to figure out what was going on," Pharoah said. "Of course, he was emotional about it, because he's been through situations."

Pharoah then praised his parents for attempting to protect him but acknowledged that he still faced profiling by law enforcement.

"Just because, both of them are 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."

News of the wrongful detainment made headlines in June after Pharoah shared surveillance footage of the incident on Instagram

Pharoah said he was jogging through Los Angeles when he was approached by LAPD officers who had their guns drawn.

In the Instagram post, Pharoah said: "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."

In June, an LAPD spokesperson told Insider: "The person in the Instagram post was detained as a possible suspect of a crime. It was determined to be the wrong suspect and he was let go. The incident is being investigated."

The incident happened as the United States underwent a reckoning towards police brutality and racism this summer. Nationwide protests began after the death of George Floyd in May and continued as people advocated for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others.

According to Pharoah, the officers told him that he "fit the description of a black man in the area with gray sweatpants on and a gray shirt."

The officers later apologized and left to pursue another call, but Pharoah said an apology was not enough.

"I literally could've been George Floyd," Pharoah said. "We as a country can't breathe anymore, and we are tired. We are sick and we are tired of it." 

The full episode of "Peace of Mind With Taraji" is set to air on January 11 at 9 a.m. PST/12 p.m. EST.

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