Ving Rhames is an international movie star — best know for roles in Pulp Fiction, the Mission Impossible franchise, and countless others. But despite currently starring in the no. 1 movie in the country, the actor isn’t immune to the ongoing reality of racial profiling.
The 59-year-old actor opened up about a scary, racially-charged encounter with police that happened in his own home during a recent appearance on The Clay Cane Show on SiriusXM.
“I had a situation, I live in Brentwood, and I have another house in Santa Monica, California,” Rhames recalled. “I’m in my home, it was around 2:15 in the afternoon. I have a screen door at my Santa Monica place and then I have a wooden door.
I go through the screen door, and then the wooden door, I’m in the house… I hear a noise in my backyard, but I’m thinking, you know, the puppies are just running around or what have you. And then, I get a knock on the front door. So, as a matter of fact, I was watching ESPN, so I get up, and I’m just in my basketball shorts, literally. And so, I get up, I open the door, there’s a red dot pointed at my face from a nine millimeter.”
Rhames said that after police asked him to open his front screen door, with one hand, he stepped outside with his hands in the air. To his recollection, there was one officer “with a nine millimeter pointed at me,” along with two other officers, the captain of police and a police dog.
“I get out, they recognize me,” he said. “The captain of police… he recognized me because my son played against his [kids’] school… They recognize me, and the guy, says it was a mistake, they apologize, what have you. But my problem was — and then, I said, ‘Why are you doing this?’ He said to me, ‘A woman called,’ this is literally what the police officer said, ‘A woman called 9-1-1, said a large black man was breaking into the house.’ And so they came.”
The actor said that after the incident was deescalated, he and some of the officers went over to the neighbor’s house where the 9-1-1 call originated, though he said that “the person denied it.”
“So here I am in my own home, alone in some basketball shorts, just because someone calls and says a large black man is breaking in, when I opened up the wooden door, a nine millimeter is pointed at me,” he added. “My problem is, I said to them, what if it was my son, and he had, you know, a video game remote, or something. And you thought it was a gun. Just like… I don’t know, Trayvon [Martin] had a bag of Skittles.”
The Santa Monica Police Department responded to Rhames’ claims in a statement to ET.
“On July 29, 2016 at about 1:52 p.m., Santa Monica Public Safety Dispatch received several calls from residents of a possible residential burglary in the 800 block of 23rd Street in Santa Monica,” the statement reads. “The reporting parties indicted a black male was seen entering a residence and did not live there.
Officers from the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) responded to the area with the information available to them. Within minutes, officers arrived at the residence. 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.”
“Following this incident, SMPD launched a city-wide community program ‘Meet Your Neighbors’ to address situations such as these,” the statement continues. “The program was designed to encourage neighbors to step out of their comfort zones and get to know each other over coffee, ice cream or block party.
The Santa Monica Police Department encourages neighbors to become familiar with each other to avoid similar situations.”