Ving Rhames Says Police Put a Gun in His Face After a Neighbor Thought He Was Robbing Himself

The Santa Monica Police Department defended their aggressive response after a neighbor called police on the Mission Impossible actor.



Actor Ving Rhames recently recounted his harrowing encounter with police after a neighbor believed that he broke into his own California home.

As Page Six reports, Rhames spoke with the Clay Cane Show about what he said was his own personal experience with racism. In July 2016, Rhames was watching television at home when he heard a knock on the door. When he opened it, a gun was pointed at his face and a red dot rested on his forehead.

A neighbor had called emergency services to report a "large black man" burglarizing the home. Officers with the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) had arrived at Rhames's home with guns drawn, thinking him to be the suspect. And while Rhames was technically the "large black man" for which they were looking, the police captain eventually realized that a mistake was made.

The captain recognized Rhames because their sons played for opposing schools in a high school sports game.

SMPD Lt. Saul Rodriguez confirmed the incident with PEOPLE, saying that the department responded to calls "from several neighbors" thinking they were watching a burglary unfold. When asked why the police acted as aggressively as they did, Rodriguez said that burglaries had the potential to be violent.

"You don't know what you're going to encounter," he told PEOPLE. "Officers can be very cautious."

Shortly after the situation was diffused, Rhames took the time to introduce himself to his neighbors to avoid future incidents. While he was personally still shaken by what happened, Rhames worried about the implications for his son.

"What if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something, and you thought it was a gun?" he said in the interview, comparing it to the bag of Skittles found in Trayon Martin's pocket after he was shot in 2012.

SMPD responded by hosting a "Meet Your Neighbors" challenge in January 2017. Those who participated would have their names entered in a raffle for a chance to win an SMPD-hosted block party. The Santa Monica Police Department has also hosted a number of events to promote interactions between themselves and the community.

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  1. “Think you see something, Check your premise”.

  2. Time to put all those neighbors on the official unofficial watch while flying list.

  3. Don’t want to get a gun pointed at your face like a thug, don’t be a highly recognizable black movie star living in Santa Monica like a thug.

    1. Freeper idiot alert

      1. 1) What the fuck is a “freeper?”
        2) Check your sarcasm detector, it probably needs to be re-calibrated.

        1. Freeper = Right-wing political activist. So-called, because it is the nickname of the denizens of the ultra-right wing Web site FreeRepublic.com. Similar to “ditto-head.”

          1. I just Googled that FreeRepublic.com website and it seems slightly more unhinged than the New Republic. Pretty insane

          2. Sort of like the Reason commentariat, but not as rabidly pro-Trump…

      2. Praceen, aren’t you stepping outside your primary function as an apologist for,Obama?

    2. What kind of stupid statement is that? Or were you just joking? The man was in his own damn home minding his own business when the police pulled their guns on him and told him to come out. That stupid neighbor of his assumed that since he was a black man, he couldn’t possibly live there–and this neighbor claimed he saw him breaking into his own house? Puh-lease. What strikes me is how the police didn’t bother to find who actually lived at the house—all they needed to hear were the words, “big black man” and they came running. Also, I find it strange that the neighbor didn’t know Rhames lived here—especially since they lived on the same street. That’s weird.

      1. You just tripped and fell into the sarchasm.

  4. Marsellus Wallace don’t like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace.

    1. Nah man, I’m pretty fucking far from ok.

    2. Tell me it was a motorcycle cop named Zed, please.

      1. Zed’s dead, baby

  5. I like that I live in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other and looks out for each other. If it looked like someone was breaking into my home my neighbors would say something–in fact they have done so–to the person on my property

  6. Sad, but another sign of the times.

    Growing up, we knew everyone on the street. Black, white, the miserable old woman that lived on the corner and the weird hillbillies the next street over. We didn’t necessarily socialize with everyone, but we generally knew who lived where.

    There were always a couple of ‘Edna Kravitz’-types peeking out from behind their curtains. Our parents would get a report on our comings and goings from several different sources.

    1. I like when sociologists try to understand why middle-income single family oriented communities tend to have less crime and stronger community engagement. It’s a real mystery

    2. You lived in my neighborhood? Anyway, a family quietly moved in one late spring day. It took about 24 hours for the whole community to learn it was Phillies center fielder and future Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn. And he had four daughters. Guess where we hung around all summer? More than once, the cops were called to keep the autograph seekers away. I find it hard to believe that everyone on Rhames’ block didn’t know a movie star had moved in.

    3. Yeah, I can’t imagine Santa Monica folk being totally unaware of the vague appearance of their neighbors. It’s not like this was a tenement block.

  7. How did the idiot neighbor miss the fact that a big black guy moved in the first place? How the hell does a busy body neighbor who calls the police miss th emoving vans earlier in the year?

    In this case, the cops actually were the sensible ones. Good to see some stories where the cops dont stupidly escalate situations. In the hands of some other cops, Ving Rhames could have been shot if the cops escalated the situation and pissed him off or someone was trigger nervous

    1. Agreed. It looks like the cops tried to make amends and work pro-actively to prevent future incidents.

  8. When he opened it, a gun was pointed at his face and a red dot rested on his forehead.

    There’s just too much absurdity with this story from both sides. Does the SMPD generally draw their guns, ring the doorbell, and then point the guns at whomever answers the door? Do people really use laser sights anymore? If so, how did Ving know the dot was on his forehead?

    I don’t suspect that Ving has never been subject to racism, even at the hands of any given PD, I’d even believe that the SMPD has mistakenly ‘gone hot’ in the last week. But this situation sounds like another Beer Summit. Except this time the President is the adult (not) in the room.

    1. Do people really use laser sights anymore?

      Absolutely. They’ve gotten very small and reliable.

      1. Absolutely. They’ve gotten very small and reliable.

        It must just be the communities I shoot in then. Most dropped them back when the best green ones were coming into fashion and were, at best, barely visible at 25 ft. in broad daylight. Of course, everybody likes good ole iron or tritium but the ability of lasers to effectively compete with reflex sights energy-wise (or speed and accuracy-wise) approached the realm of burning a hole in the target in order to site the gun. It could’ve made sense on an AR or long gun but that seems excessive for a burglary (probably why I’m not in law enforcement). The only time I’ve seen laser sights used effectively/necessarily to advantage is with IR lasers and/or night vision. Even then, the (visible) lasers still tended to draw a straight line/funnel to the shooter/gun but aided the artificially narrow FOV imposed by the optics.

        The cops ringing the doorbell with laser sights active just sounds like something out of a bad 80s cop film. Post-parody America I guess.

  9. Santa Monica. Center of politcal wokeness in southern California. Where Hollywood lefties actually live if they can afford it. Calling the cops because one of their neighbors is black.

    1. “*gasp*……A NEGRO!” (Old woman looking out her window)

  10. So, this happened in California.

    I thought California was super liberal and progressive and much more enlightened than those of us in fly over country.

  11. Well, let’s be fair: he PLAYED a burglar in The People Under the Stairs. (He got eaten by a pair of Dobermans, watch-dogs!)

  12. Some white Americans aren’t acting like they will be in the minority soon.

    Those folks can’t die off, and take their stale thinking to the grave so they can be replaced by better people in our electorate, soon enough.

    1. Is that supposed to be the real libertarian take on this situation? Are you even trying, or is this all you have?

      1. Arranging the aiming of police firearms at your neighbor for the offense of being a large black homeowner sounds bigoted, cowardly, and authoritarian, not libertarian.

        I perceive a rebuttable presumption that those who called the police are easily frightened, stale-thinking, authoritarian racists.

        1. If you arrange “the aiming of police firearms at your neighbor for the offense of being a large black homeowner,” then no, that’s not libertarian; this point is obvious and irrelevant. It’s also not vegan, Presbyterian, Marxist or anything else unrelated to the incident. Your second sentence is mere virtue signaling.

          1. I signal virtue. You’re a right-wing bigot.

            I am content.

            1. You’re a pretender, a bigot of the worst kind.

              Go drink Drano with Tony.

    2. You’re talking about Santa Monica, where as far as I can tell there isn’t a single precinct where Donald Trump got as much as 20% of the vote. So yeah, I’m happy to see those liberal hypocrites die off.

  13. If you see something, say something

    1. If you see something, say something stupid – FTFY

  14. “‘What if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something, and you thought it was a gun?’ he said in the interview, comparing it to the bag of Skittles found in Trayon Martin’s pocket after he was shot in 2012.”

    Trayvon Martin wasn’t shot because anybody mistook the Skittles in his pocket for a gun. He was shot because he was punching someone’s head into a concrete sidewalk.

  15. So now, knowing and being known by your neighbors is a necessary condition to avoid getting into shootouts with the police?

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