Taraji P. Henson made headlines after she stated she was sending her 20-year-old son, Marcell Johnson, to an HBCU (specifically Howard University) so that she wouldn’t have to worry about him being racially-profiled.

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The “Empire” star told Uptown Magazine about two incidents where her son had been profiled by police including a “bogus” traffic stop and on the campus of University of Southern California.

My child has been racially profiled. He was in Glendale, California and did exactly everything the cops told him to do, including letting them illegally search his car. It was bogus because they didn’t give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for. Then he’s at University of Southern California, the school that I was going to transfer him to, when police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets. So guess where he’s going? Howard University. I’m not paying $50K so I can’t sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus.

The Glendale Police Department has released a 40-minute video to contradict Taraji’s claims about Marcell being profiled during his traffic stop.

Via The Grio:

The footage from Oct. 18 shows the officer driving in traffic about 10:10 p.m. in Glendale when Henson drives through a lighted crosswalk as a person walks across.

When the officer approaches the car, Johnson hands the officer his insurance information and says he’s never been arrested. He says his name is Marcell Johnson, and his mother is actress Taraji P. Henson.

Johnson later confesses to the officer that he is in possession of state-issued medical marijuana (but couldn’t find his marijuana license), and a prescription pill, Ritalin, that a friend gave him.

“You know you’re not supposed to have that, right?” the officer told him.

Johnson then let the officer search his car.

He later revealed to officers that he had smoked marijuana two hours before driving, at which point a sobriety test was performed. He passed the test.

The officer appeared to cut Johnson a break by giving him a citation for possessing marijuana, instead of a traffic violation which would have more damaging effect to his driving record.

“I am not going to give you a citation for running that yellow because that would actually put a moving violation on your driving license, and you are going to have to go to traffic school and all that stuff, so I am helping you by not giving you a violation on it. All I am going to do is take the weed from you,” he said.

Watch the condensed footage via TMZ below:



John Thomas, the head of the Department of Public Safety at USC, released a statement saying he was deeply disturbed to learn Taraji P. Henson’s son was allegedly profiled on their campus.

I was deeply disturbed to read news reports about a prospective student who felt profiled on or near campus because of his race. We encourage reporting of allegations of bias and I hope for the opportunity to have a conversation with the young man and his mother.

I would like to look into this matter further and better understand who was involved and what took place. As someone who personally experienced racial profiling as a teenager, I have a stake in learning more about this incident and doing all I can to reach a just resolution.

Taraji’ P. Henson’s publicist, Pam Sharp, responded to the newly-released police video saying, “We have said all and wish to protect her son’s privacy.”