Rhames, who recalled the incident Friday on The Clay Cane Show on Sirius XM, said he was in his Santa Monica house in basketball shorts when responding officers, guns drawn, confronted him.
“I open the door [and] there’s a red dot pointed at my face from a 9 mm, and they say, ‘Put up your hands!’ he said during the interview.
The harrowing experience, which happened two years ago, was set in motion after one of Rhames’ neighbors called police because, Rhames and police said, they noticed a large African American man entering the home and thought it was a burglary in progress.
The confrontation ended only after one of the responding officers recognized Rhames — not from his roles in movies, but because their sons competed in a basketball league.
Officers also escorted Rhames to his neighbor’s home to introduce him.
Still, the actor still wanted answers.
“Why are you doing this?” he said he asked the officers. “They said, ‘A woman called 911 and said a large black man was breaking into the house.'”
Santa Monica police on Saturday confirmed that the incident happened on July 29, 2016, just before 2 p.m. local time. Sgt. Saul Rodriguez said the department received two calls about an African-American man entering a home from neighbors who didn’t think he lived there.
After officers responded, Rodiguez said they deescalated the situation.
“My problem is … what if it was my son, and he had a video game remote or something, and you thought it was a gun? Just like … Trayvon has a bag of Skittles,” Rhames said, referring to Travyon Martin, the teenager who was killed by a neighborhood patrol watchman in Florida in 2012.
The Santa Monica Police Department said, because of that incident and others like it, it began a program in January 2017 called “Meet Your Neighbors,” in which it encourages residents “step out of their comfort zone and get to know the people on their block.”
Rhames’ telling of the incident comes as news of blacks having the police called on them for seemingly innocuous reasons has exploded on social media. Over the last few months, a woman called 911 because black people were barbequing in a public park in Oakland; another woman called police on a black girl selling bottled water in San Francisco; and, among other incidents, a CVS manager calling 911 because he questioned the legitimacy of a woman’s coupon.