Georgia Couple’s 5 Children Arrested After Misdemeanor Charge Following Tennessee Traffic Stop
COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The five children of a Georgia couple have been taken into state custody after their parents were arrested in Tennessee and charged with a misdemeanor.
Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams were traveling from Georgia to Chicago for a funeral when they were arrested in Coffee County, Tennessee.
According to the affidavit, the traffic stop was to have tinted windows and use the left lane without actively passing.
After being arrested, the officer smelled marijuana and found about 5 grams of it in the car, according to court documents.
Later, the Clayborne children were placed in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) after a court order. The children are between 4 months and 7 years old.
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“When I went to join him, the man grabbed me, he said, ‘Don’t touch him,'” Clayborne said, recalling the times his children were taken from his custody. “My eldest, he looked at me all confused and I just gave him a hug and said, ‘It’s not your fault.'”
Lawyers for Clayborne said they don’t think it would have escalated in the same way if his clients looked different or came from a different background.
Following the publication of Clayborne’s story in The Tennessee Lookout, Tennessee Senate Democrats called on DCS to return the children to their parents.
“It is outrageous that the state forcibly separated nursing mother Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams from their children and allowed this to continue for nearly a month. The state exercised extreme and flawed judgment in taking their children and it appears they doubled down on that bad decision,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis).
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The same sentiment was shared by Akbari’s colleagues.
“It is an unacceptable abuse of power for state officials to snatch five children from their parents on a charge of misdemeanor possession when DCS cannot even care for the children they already have in custody. on sight,” Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis) said.
In a statement, the Coffee County District Attorney said the story goes beyond what Clayborne and his attorneys are releasing publicly.
“Certainly, there are other facts and circumstances that the defendants chose not to disclose in their efforts to try this case in the court of public opinion and the realm of politics. My office will only try this case in criminal court,” District Attorney Craig Northcott said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) said there was a weapon in the vehicle in the possession of a convicted felon, but no evidence of those charges has been made public.
“We did not arrest the mother, in this particular case, with the intention of leaving the children with her and that is where we left her,” said THP Col. Matt Perry. “The mother had custody of the children when we were done.”
According to DCS officials, they cannot comment on ongoing cases and stressed that the decision to place children in state custody rests with the courts.
“DCS and law enforcement are following evidence collection protocol. These findings are then presented to the court. In this case, the evidence led the court to place the children in DCS custody,” a DCS spokesperson said.
Clayborne’s attorneys said DCS retaliated against them for releasing certain legal documents, but DCS did not respond to those comments.
Still, as lawyers and government officials come and go, Clayborne said she feels grieving.
“It’s like death,” she says. “Losing someone you can get along with because they are no longer with you, but having children in the world [and] you physically cannot see or touch [them]is breathtaking.