Taraji P. Henson apologizes to cops after claiming they ‘profiled’ her son


I covered Taraji P. Henson’s Uptown cover and interview last week – go here to read. The photoshoot was amazing and I thought Taraji’s interview was interesting too. But one part caused some controversy, for various reasons. Taraji was talking about her son, Marcel, who is college-aged. Taraji said she was making him transfer to Howard University, a historically black college/university (HBCU) in the heart of Washington, DC (which is also where Taraji grew up).

“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.”

[Via Uptown]

Some people were offended that HBCUs still exist (really?) and some other people called the whole “racially profiled by the cops” thing into question. USC’s Department of Public Safety even made a statement about Taraji’s comments, with the chief of campus police asking for more information about what went down. The Los Angeles Times got into it too, and they ended up getting their hands on the dash-cam video of Marcel’s stop by the police – you can see the video here. It actually seems like the police officer went out of his way to cite Marcel with a lesser charge rather than a moving violation.

So, as it turns out, Taraji’s son was not really racially profiled. He was pulled over for a routine violation and the cop was sort of nice to him. Surprisingly, Taraji is now publicly admitting that she was wrong and she overreacted. She posted her apology to her Instagram, writing:

“I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department. A mother’s job is not easy and neither is a police officer’s. Sometimes as humans WE overreact without gathering all of the facts. As a mother in this case I overreacted and for that I apologize. Thank you to that officer for being kind to my son.”

[From Instagram]

You know what I think happened? I think Marcel came home and told his mom what happened, only he spun the story to make it sound like he had done nothing wrong and he got busted for no reason other than his skin color. And Taraji believed her son. Then when the video came out, Taraji watched it and realized that Marcel had spun the story/lied outright. So she ended up taking the heat and apologizing. So… yeah, I’m still #TeamTaraji. I even like her more for owning up to her mistake and apologizing. Ooooh, I bet Marcel is in TROUBLE.

#TurningANegativeIntoAPositive #LoveTarajiPHenson 💋✌️

A photo posted by taraji p henson (@tarajiphenson) on

Photos courtesy of Instagram, WENN.

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73 Responses to “Taraji P. Henson apologizes to cops after claiming they ‘profiled’ her son”

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  1. Jay says:

    She’s a class act. Kudos.

  2. Catelina says:

    Glad she owned up to her mistake, and that things are cleared up now.

    • Lucinda says:

      That is how an apology is done. She should teach a class. Good for her. Love her even more.

  3. Miss M says:

    I liked her apology. I think Marcel is in trouble…

    • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

      Oh I totally believe that he told his mama he didn’t do anything. And she probably only found out because she found out about the ticket……lol.

    • Pinky says:

      @Miss M: Marcel had better hope there are no brooms in Cookie’s house!

    • Snarky says:

      I kind of feel bad for him. Any other teen would have gotten away with it…and he had journalists crawling all over his story.

      • FLORC says:

        She’s an actress so her words got carried. That she’s Cookie of Empire makes that much easier for her. Still, she argued racial profiling at a time when tempers are still high on that. And videos get released often now. This would have played out the same imo. Good for her apologising though. Classy.

        And Yea Marcel is in trouble!

    • Alicia says:

      He should be for lying to his mother. He ended up embarrassing his mother and potentially opening her up to a defamation lawsuit. His lie also hurts true victims of racial profiling.

      Yes, in a perfect world she should have gotten the police report, talked to the police, etc. but racial profiling is very common among police. There is no doubt she initially believed her son had been racially profiled. Her apology was gracious and came immediately after she found out what truly happened.

  4. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Embarrassing, but she handled it well.

  5. Talie says:

    Taraji pulled a Cookie and got the pool cue out!

    No, but seriously, this all probably took her by surprise too. After years of being ignored, she’s now shot right up to to the A-list, but she’s handling herself beautifully.

  6. Loopy says:

    Damn Marcel gonna get it. lol

  7. Tig says:

    Yup, classic mistake re lying- take it one step too far! If he’s not in trouble, he should be. However, still glad to see both decent police behavoir and her apology.

  8. Jm says:

    In the word we live in where racial tensions are at an extremely high level, maybe. Just maybe, she should have gotten her facts straight before making her first public statement. Cops are being shot because of false accusations and negative perceptions that are being wrecklessly perpetuated by the media and people on social media. If you have a loved one in law enforcement , you could understand why her first statement is the one most people read and believe. Her apology does not make up for it.

    • Goats on the Roof says:

      I agree. She shot her mouth off without knowing the truth. She falsely accused people of racism! That’s horrible and an apology is the very least of what she should do.

      Also, all these people excusing her behavior because Marcel probably lied to her baffle me. Clearly we were not raised by the same kind of mother. If I told my mum I got in trouble with police, she wouldn’t say, “Oh, poor baby got profiled.” She’d ask me straight up what I was doing to catch police attention in the first place.

      • Adele Dazeem says:

        Well said. If one of my children got in trouble with the police, I would first think there has to be a reason for this, whether it is right or wrong. I would want to know for absolute certainly that my child had done nothing wrong before I went shooting my mouth off. What were they doing to attract police attention in the first place?

        I am so glad Taraji got called out on this. This actress annoys the hell out of me for some irrational reason. But, at the same time, I’m glad she had the decency to apologise and accept that her reaction was totally wrong.

      • funcakes says:

        Exactly. My parents would wonder what I did to have the police stop me. And rightly so because I got in trouble a lot as a kid. Nothing major but enough for my parents to give me the side eye.

    • Nicolette says:

      Agreed, but I do think her apology makes a difference. Upon realizing what had really happened she took the high road and did what many would not. It’s a parents instinct to stand behind their child and in some cases parents will continue to defend even after learning the truth behind a situation. “Not my child!” mentality ensues. I think she did the right thing and I have nothing but respect for her doing so. Another might not have done the same and instead would have fanned the flames.

    • WinterLady says:

      I get what you are saying, and I agree that she should’ve gotten all the facts of the case before she broadcasted the story over the media. But she isn’t the first parent who was blindsided by concern for her child. I believe she is embarrassed and sincere that in apology to the police, who were nothing but polite to her son. I can believe she isn’t going to go easy on her son after this came out.

      • annaloo. says:

        Her kid probably was trying to hide the fact that he had weed on him! I wouldn’t tell my parents that, and I’m 41! No matter what skin color, kids lie and distort facts— there was only on e person she could have gotten this story from: her son!

    • meme says:

      I agree. In this atmosphere one should have checked all the facts before spouting off about injustice. I’d like to know why her son has a prescription for medical marijuana and taking Ritalin?

      • paranormalgirl says:

        He apparently DOESN’T have a prescription for medical marijuana and the ritalin wasn’t his, either. But it’s none of anyone’s business if and why he was prescribed any medication.

    • Joy says:

      I agree. This is not the time to just start making (false) allegations. She only listened to what her child said, then made a sweeping statement about all the police in that office.

    • Abby_J says:

      Not to mention that with all the stuff her son was busted with, I would be EXTREMELY surprised if this was the first time that she was hearing about drugs when it came to him. I think she might have inquired further based on that alone. Seems like instead of sending him to Howard, she ought to be sending him to rehab.

    • dana says:

      She should’ve thought twice and checked the facts. Some might say she didn’t think the cops could check the dash-cam and was playing the race card. I don’t think she should go easy on her son for this mess up, but I’m 30, and our mother makes sure she knows ever fact about my sister and I

    • JaneS says:

      The idiot made comments KNOWING what the response would be. A responsible adult would think ‘What is the impact my words will have’.

      It says alot about her ignorance and stupidity. And let’s be frank, she only ‘apologised’ once the video came out and it was freaking clear that the cop was pretty decent and respectful to the kid at all times (shame that the kid’s mother couldn’t show the same respect to the cop).

      I don’t see the ‘class act’ when the damage has been done and the apology has been forced due to proof that she was wrong.

    • Heather says:

      Never mind. I don’t want to have a conversation about this with… the people above. Wow. Feel free to delete my comment, mods.

  9. BeBeA says:

    His butt would be mine. When a mother is willing to go hard for you, the last thing you do is lie and embarrass her, if his life was cushy before I bet it won’t be for awhile. And for good measure make him get a job and pay for his own education! You gon learn today!!

  10. Erinn says:

    You know what she probably should have done?

    Gone down to the station and spoke with the police before making the FIRST statement. Hell, even if she was pissed off, she should have gone in and dealt with them directly first before tossing out the ‘he’s being racially profiled’ card. And I’m not saying she can’t use that angle at all – God, it’d be terrifying to have to deal with that shit given all that’s going on. But also because of what’s going on, it’s something that needs to be used carefully. And even in her first statement – I’ll give her credit because she was a lot more calm than you’d expect an angry mother to be. Had she gone to the PD in the first place though, she probably wouldn’t have been in this situation.

    Her apology was nice. Honestly, it’s just a shame that the whole thing happened the way it did. If her son had been treated unfairly – then hell yes, she has every right to make a statement. But it seems like the officer actually was pretty great to her son.

    As someone who takes dexedrine for adult ADHD … she needs to crack down on the ADD pills ASAP – especially when she’s paying for his school. When you have ADD the stimulant somehow neutralizes the way the brains firing and levels everything out. The same medicine taken by someone without ADD/ADHD will have a normal stimulant effect. So he’s taking them to get high – because if the guy was dealing with ADD/ADHD there’s no way he wouldn’t have access to get a prescription to help him.

    Given the way she’s presented herself though- I doubt her son is getting off too easily on this one. While I have mixed feelings about the original statement from her – she’s actually handled it fantastically – and I know it must be hard as a mom to not lash out when you think your baby is being mistreated. So overall – I’m pretty impressed. I hope she did reach out to the officer personally, or at least to the PD to apologize.

    • FingerBinger says:

      She didn’t need to go to the police station. All she needed to do was request a police report. If the report was anything like the video ,she would have seen for herself that her son’s story was inconsistent.

  11. Mia4S says:

    He dropped his mother’s name?! Yuck. Well it’s nice to know we’ve at least achieved racial equality among young, rich, entitled, assholes.

    That cop was very kind, good to see.

  12. Lucy2 says:

    Class act all the way.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      Yes, the police officer WAS a class act!!!!! How come when a white celeb apologies for something, it’s always “too little, too late” “not sincere” “they are full of it”…But TPH is a CLASS ACT….really, really getting sick of the double standard…

  13. pwal says:

    It’s a very good apology. My hope is that when Taraji gets asked about this (because you know the press will not miss out on an opportunity to jam up a celeb), I hope she will add that transparency has to be a two-way street, regarding race and law enforcement. We people of color have to be honest with ourselves when it comes to interaction with the police. While I support the protests regarding questionable pullovers, I have to admit that the times I was pulled over, it was legitimate, mainly for speeding in school zones (which I stopped because I more mindful due to the pullover and ensuing ticket). And other interactions, mainly due to domestic violence disturbances in my building, the policemen have been great.

  14. Camille says:

    The cop was sort of nice?? Seriously??? The cop was very kind and polite to her son. We aren’t dealing with a light subject here. She should have had her facts in order before using an interview to say things about her son being racially profiled. I’m sorry, but I lost all respect for her on this, apology or not.

  15. AlmondJoy says:

    How embarrassing! But in a world where racial profiling is a very REAL thing, it wouldn’t be surprising if it did happen. I don’t blame her for believing her son initially. Kudos for Taraji for apologizing. I’ve always had great respect for her and this just reinforces it.

    To all those complaint about how she should have gotten the facts straight before she spoke, that may be the case. But it is a FACT that black people are racially profiled every single day. So again, when someone complains of such a situation, it’s not hard to believe. She’s also not the first parent to trust her child and believe what they say. I work with children and I see it all the time. Taraji did the right thing here.

    • FingerBinger says:

      Because there is racial profiling he should have known better. In a situation like that you never cry wolf.

  16. lila fowler says:

    Of course she had to publicly apologize. What an idiot. She looks so foolish right now. The fact that racial profiling does happen in this country every day is no excuse for that kid to lie about it, and then his mother goes to magazines and talks about it, when it did not happen. In fact, he could have been charged for at least three offenses and this little pill-popping, name-dropping fool got off with a fine for what? Not having his license? Please.

    • chaine says:

      She’s probably attempting to avoid a defamation lawsuit from the cop.

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      I bet when Marcel found out his mother had mentioned the incident in her interview, he went “oh, sh*t!”. His little white lie to his mother about being racially profiled to cover up for the fact he had weed on him just went public.

  17. Jayna says:

    The cop was beyond nice and gave this kid a break. If her son went home and tried to pin this on racial profiling to his mother, shame on him. If she just overreacted because he claimed he didn’t do anything (as all kids do) to be pulled over and she, in her own mind, took it to racial profiling and made an unsubstantiated statement about a police officer, she definitely should have apologized in the face of that video, which went the exact opposite way, a cop giving a kid a break and was very lenient and giving him some advice without being preachy or condescending. I thought it was a nice apology. Raising teens can be very tough, even in college.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      But why was she a CLASS ACT? She absolutely should have apologised….I’m not giving her any kudos for doing the right thing. That police officer could have gotten in serious trouble…

  18. Elly says:

    Nice boy. He dropped his mothers name and of course he was stoned but he has a marijuana license (somewhere at home of course) so all is ok… who cares about car accidents caused by drugged drivers, right? Oh and the Ritalin belongs to his friend. Yeah of course.

    • Kori says:

      Yeah the cop comes off much better than the son. But he’s a teen so hopefully he will straighten up. Especially since I’m sure he’s getting an earful from his mom after she went out there in a printed interview and now has to backtrack and apologize for the faulty info. I liked that she didn’t just apologize but actually thanked the officer.

  19. Jessica says:

    The cop went so light on her son that it’s odd that he even mentioned it to her. It’s not like he lost his license or needed her help in paying a huge fine, so he could have just not told her he was pulled over instead of lying about how things went down.

    She’s a class act for apologizing but her son is coming across incredibly poorly. The kid should have been delighted and grateful he got off so easy, instead he whined and lied about it to mummy. Where I’m from if you admitted you smoked pot two hours before getting behind the wheel of a car you’d lose your license and spend at least a night in jail, more like weeks if over-crowding wasn’t an issue. Smoke all you want but don’t drive if there’s even a little left in your system.

    • Kori says:

      If he was on her auto insurance she may have found out (because tickets can cause rates to increase) or he may have worried she would and decided on a preemptive strike.

  20. briargal says:

    A lot of people are over-reacting without getting the facts on things today. It’s so easy with social media–TV, the internet and texting–for people to spread all kinds of untrue and overblown things and people just believe the lies. Time for people to slow down–get ALL the facts–before they take any action or make comments. I respect Taraji and hope that she will inspire people to not react until ALL the facts are know

  21. word says:

    I think maybe her son told a different story to his mom and that’s what she told the media. The video is out there of the truth. The cop was super nice to her son. She should have found out the facts before telling the story in an interview.

  22. **sighs** says:

    It makes me wonder why the move to Howard now. If the impetus was racial profiling from cops based on this incident, which don’t seem to be true, then….why the move?

  23. Lucy says:

    Hahaha, you know he dead!!! Yeah, it is embarrassing, but not on her behalf, so hopefully Marcel will learn a thing or two from this. Perfectly handled!

  24. littlestar says:

    What I find weird about this story is that she is saying where “she” is going to send her son. Like it is her decision and not his. Wtf? I get she’s probably paying for his education, but does he not have a choice in where he wants to attend university? And how can she say, I was going to send him here but now I’m going to send him there? Doesn’t a person usually have to apply to a school first and wait to see if they’ll get in? She makes it sound like she’s yanking him out mid-term and placing him somewhere else immediately, and that does not happen in universities.

    No wonder the kid lied and thought he could get away with it. They both sound like they have entitled attitudes.

    • Courtney says:

      Rich people have different rules. I’m sure she could get his immature, entitled rear into Howard.

  25. CK says:

    Taraji is not the first parent to react from faulty information provided by a child and she won’t be the last. As to getting her facts straight, are you kidding me? She had all the facts that she could gather from the incident. There is no way in hell if profiling had occurred would it have been written up in the police report and I doubt she could have obtained the video. She admitted her faults and apologized and frankly, that’s enough. Marcel better hide all the brooms in the house.

  26. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Thanks, Marcel.

  27. taxi says:

    Her nicely worded apology won’t get nearly the publicity that her charged accusations did. Most people will never see the apology. The kid lied, TPH flew off the handle and screamed to the world about racial profiling. Can LAPD get the real tape played on national news shows, accompanied by T’s apology? Didn’t think so. Taraji P needs to come up with a much louder, backtracking apology & get publicity for that.

  28. icy says:

    PR move, but the damage is done. Now some people think blacks are lying about issues with cops and this BS didn’t help the cause.

    • Alicia says:

      Exactly. There are numerous examples of African-American men who have legitimately been racially profiled and her son using that to try and get out of trouble is garbage. This will be used to brush all TRUE racial profiling cases under the rug. The cop is lucky there is videotape of the incident and that it cleared his name.

      It’s like women who lie about being raped – one woman lies and all of sudden any woman who is raped is considered to be lying. The doubters always bring up the one or two famous cases of women who lied and using that to say all women who claim to be raped are lying.

  29. pam says:

    I hope her apology was honest. What an irresponsible, ignorant, spoiled brat her son seems to be. Lucky to be able to go to any school, lies to mom about being mistreated by cops, and using her name to get out of trouble. He should be apologizing

  30. Jenny says:

    This is something the dash-cam is good for. Lies can be exposed when they have all of it on tape. Her son should be ashamed

  31. Rosalindy says:

    This cop was extremely nice and polite especially considering he “left” his prescription at home and was in possession of Ritalin that wasn’t his. My daughter had to go to the ER a few weeks ago for horrible abdominal pain, spent all day there having ultrasounds and a camera stuck up her lady parts (sorry I can’t phrase that better) to find out she has ovarian cysts the size of marbles. When she left the hospital she couldn’t put on her seat belt because of extreme pain and there happened to be a police officer parked right outside the hospital entrance. I would never normally say “don’t wear your seat belt” but I live approximately 1/2 mile from the hospital and like I said, she was hurting. The officer pulled her over, my 18 year old daughter explained to him why she wasn’t wearing her seat belt and that she was on the way to my house down the street, and he cited her anyway. With a ending comment “don’t forget to buckle up!” said in a smart-ass tone.
    So the officer was parked outside the hospital (hiding by the way) waiting for people coming in and out of the hospital to give citations which in itself to me is kind of cold. Ranting now, so I’ll get to my point. Was she breaking the law by not wearing her seat belt? Yes. Were there other factors involved and could the officer have had a little empathy and cut her a break? Absolutely. So this whole situation with her son falsely claiming racial profiling when he was let go with a slap on the wrist and wasn’t racially profiled at all makes me a little ragey. I understand she probably was very upset and her son more than likely lied to her but he get off very easy.
    Again, sorry for the rant but the cop that cited her son was extremely nice and he should feel lucky he didn’t get arrested.

  32. Di says:

    Wow, this lady gives a superb public apology, and everybody on this thread is STILL attacking her. Some of you are more angry at her error than you are about the ACTUAL profiling that goes on all of the time. She made a mistake and addressed it. But let’s not miss her point. Black people ARE NOT imagining racial profiling. I am from L.A., and USC has a terrible reputation for racism and has for a long time. L.A. has historically had one of the most racist police departments in the country. She was right to be worried even if she was wrong in this instance.

    • JaneS says:

      So she accused a cop of something untrue. Only apologised when the video emerged. But she’s the victim? Lol, ok.

  33. Sissy says:

    Ms. Henson’s publicist should have bothered to address the Glendale police officer by name in the apology.

  34. Kim1 says:

    Her son lied to her.There is no excuse for what he did.He should publicly apologize to the cop.She may not believe him WHEN,not IF, he is racially profiled.My male cousins in LA are stopped by police weekly.Most of the time the cops are nice.They rarely get tickets.They stop them for minor things in order to check to see if they have warrants.

  35. jenn12 says:

    What’s sad is the amount of people who believed it without even seeing it. It’s a stereotype that all cops are a-holes, and unfair to the men and women who work hard at their job. It’s a pity that we now have to film everything.