Ving Rhames was recently held at gunpoint in his own home by police officers who suspected he was burglarizing the property after a neighbor reported that a “large black man” had broken in, the actor said on Friday.
Asked about racism on SiriusXM’s The Clay Cane Show, the Mission: Impossible — Fallout star and Golden Globe winner went into detail about the alleged incident, which he said happened earlier this year around 2:15 p.m. in his Santa Monica, California, home.
Rhames said he was watching ESPN in his basketball shorts when he heard a knock at his front door.
“I get up, I open the door and there’s a red dot pointed at my face from a 9-millimeter [gun], and they say, ‘Put up your hands.’ Literally,” he claimed.
The police officer who allegedly pointed the gun at him was joined by two other police officers, a police dog and the captain of police — the latter who eventually recognized Rhames not from his film work but because their son’s respective high school basketball teams had previously played against each other, Rhames said.
Asked why police were there, Rhames claimed police told them they were responding to a 911 call about a potential burglary.
“He said to me, ‘A woman called 911 [and] said a large black man was breaking into the house. And so we came,’ ” Rhames told Cane.
When Rhames went across the street to confront the neighbor with a police officer and the police chief by his side, the woman denied it, Rhames alleged in the interview.
“You can check this with the Santa Monica Police Department. They apologized and what have you,” Rhames said. “This is the God’s honest truth.”
Saul Rodriguez, the Santa Monica Police Department lieutenant, told PEOPLE the incident occurred on July 29, 2016.
“We got a call from several neighbors indicating that they thought what they were looking at was a burglary in the home and we responded within minutes,” he said on Saturday. “As soon as we discovered it was Mr. Rhames, we de-escalated immediately and informed him what happened.”
Asked why officers led with a gun raised, Rodriguez explained that “burglaries can sometimes be violent.”
“You don’t know what you’re going to encounter,” he said. “Officers can be very cautious.”
Afterwards, Rhimes “went outside with our officers and made contact with many of his neighbors, hoping the incident wouldn’t happen again,” Rodriguez said.
Something similar had happened in that neighborhood months later, involving a black woman who lost her keys and was locked out of her home, Rodriguez told PEOPLE. Police were called as a locksmith was helping her get back in.
To address the problem, Santa Monica police instituted a city-wide program in January 2017 called Meet Your Neighbors, which challenges community members to “step outside of their comfort zone and get to know the people on their block” through coffee dates, ice cream socials, and block parties, a press release said.
Ultimately, the incident left Rhames feeling concerned for the safety of his teenage son, Freedom.
“What if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something, and you thought it was a gun?” Rhames said to Cane. “Just like, I don’t know, Trayvon had a bag of Skittles.”