Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

'Empire' Star Apologizes For Claiming Glendale Police Racially Profiled Her Son

taraji_marcel.jpg
Taraji P. Henson and her son, Marcell (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
LAist relies on your reader support.
Your tax-deductible gift today powers our reporters and keeps us independent. We rely on you, our reader, not paywalls to stay funded because we believe important news and information should be freely accessible to all.


Empire star Taraji P. Henson has issued an apology to Glendale police after claiming that her son had been racially profiled when pulled over. Henson initially said in an interview with Uptown magazine that her son, 20-year-old Marcell Johnson, had been pulled over by a Glendale police officer who illegally searched his car for no apparent reason.

"It was bogus because they didn't give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for," she said.

This came alongside allegations that her son was also profiled on the campus of USC for having his hands in his pockets.

However, a recording of the incident from Glendale Police tells a different story, in which Johnson confesses to having drugs and admits to smoking weed within the past two hours, the L.A. Times reports.

Support for LAist comes from

Henson took to Instagram to apologize:


The footage shows Johnson being pulled over on October 18 at about 10:10 p.m. for driving through a flashing crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing. The officer pulls Johnson over, explains why and asks him if he's ever been arrested. Johnson says no.

When the officer asks if there's anything illegal in the car, Johnson confesses to having marijuana as well as Ritalin. He explains that he has a medical marijuana card that he can't find, but no prescription for the Ritalin, which he says was given to him by a friend. The officer tells him that he can smell the weed. Johnson then allows the officer to search his car. Two other officers and a police cadet join in the search.

Johnson also told the police that he'd been smoking recently. They have him do a sobriety test, which he passes. The Ritalin is never located, and Johnson says he may have left it at his friend's house. Police do find the marijuana, hash oil and a grinder. The officer decides to take his weed, but doesn't give him a ticket for driving through the flashing crosswalk.

Support for LAist comes from

"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," the officer explains, "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."

He says that all Johnson has to do is go to court and provide his prescription, or pay a fine. He also gives him a warning about the Ritalin.

As far as the alleged racial profiling incident on USC's campus, USC Department of Public Safety Chief John Thomas said he wanted to talk to Henson and her son to get to the bottom of what happened.

"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," he said.