SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) – Actor Ving Rhames said he was held at gunpoint by police at his own Santa Monica home two years ago when he was mistaken by neighbors for a robber.
The Santa Monica Police Department said Saturday that the incident was one of two which prompted the department to launch its "Meet Your Neighbors" program.
Neighbors allegedly called 911 to report two black people, one of which being Rhames, had supposedly broke into residences that turned out to be their own.
Rhames for the first time publicly discussed the incident Friday to a radio audience. Rhames, appearing on Sirius XM's "The Clay Cane" show, said that he was watching ESPN when he heard knocking at his door.
"I open the door, there's a red dot pointed at my face from a nine millimeter," Rhames said. "And they said put up your hands."
There were at least four officers and a police dog at his house.
Fortunately, Rhames said one of the officers recognized him because Rhames' son played ball against the officer's son's school.
The incident occurred at 1:52 a.m. on July 29, 2016 when several neighbors reported that "a black male was seen entering a residence and did not live there," police said in a statement.
"As officers were assessing the residence, they encountered the resident at the front door. Officers recognized the resident and the situation was quickly deescalated with no use of force occurring. The resident was identified as Ving Rhames."
KCAL9's Cristy Fajardo says Santa Monica police said their guns do not have lasers on them but discounted no other part of Rhames' story.
Rhames said police apologized to him at the scene. Even after two years, some people don't know they have a famous neighbor in Rhames. But Fajardo reported many were quick to tell her Owen Wilson lived nearby.
Lt. Saul Rodriguez also said a similar incident occurred September 6, 2015, and involved Fay Wells, a black woman who had locked herself out of her apartment.
Wells, who earned an MBA from Dartmouth University, and was a vice president of strategy at a company at the time, wrote about the incident in the Washington Post. In the piece, Wells wrote that she called for a locksmith and once inside her apartment heard a man's voice and what sounded like a small dog whimpering outside.
"I imagined a loiterer and opened the door to move him along. I was surprised to see a large dog halfway up the staircase to my door. I stepped back inside, closed the door and locked it. I heard barking. I approached my front window and loudly asked what was going on. Peering through my blinds I saw a gun.
"A man stood at the bottom of the stairs, pointing it at me. I stepped back and heard 'Come outside with your hands up."'
Wells said she later learned that the Santa Monica Police Department had dispatched 19 officers after one of her neighbors reported a burglary at her apartment.
Hence, the police department launched a city-wide "Meet Your Neighbors" program on Jan. 30, 2017, according to a department news statement.
"The key to this event is simple engagement and community building through a coffee date or ice cream social, for example," the statement said. "Our challenge to the community is to step out of their comfort zone and get to know the people on their block -- their neighbors."
Jacqueline Seabrooks, the first female black patrol officer for the Santa Monica Police Department in 1982, and California's first black woman to serve as police chief for a municipality when she became chief of the Inglewood Police Department in 2007, began her tenure as Santa Monica's police chief in 2012, retiring Sept. 30, 2017.
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