An Atlanta couple has been reunited with their five children who were taken from them by Tennessee officials and placed in foster care for two months after a traffic stop found a few grams of marijuana in the car and hair samples reportedly indicated they did harder drugs.
The father of the children, Deonte Williams, says he believes racism played a part in the children being taken and the family’s civil rights have been violated. Now, thanks to a judge, his kids have been returned, and before he moves forward, he and the family are celebrating having them back.
His family had a party to welcome his five children back into their fold. The children had been in the Tennessee state foster care system after the ordeal disbanded the young family.
Williams says he and the mother of his children, Bianca Clayborne, were driving the kids to a funeral in Chicago when they were pulled over just after 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 17 in Coffee County in central Tennessee for allegedly having tinted windows and “traveling in the left lane while not actively passing,” according to citations issued to the couple.
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Tennessee Lookout reports that Williams and Clayborne said they were coming upon an Interstate 24 exit when a Tennessee Highway Patrol turned his police car lights on behind them. The couple told Lookout they took the exit and pulled over into a gas station, and then the officer ordered Williams out of the Dodge Durango they were traveling in and placed him in the back of the police car. Clayborne and the children were taken to the gas station store.
The family’s belongings were reportedly removed from the SUV, spread on the ground, and police dogs that arrived on the scene with more law enforcement personnel began a drug search. Ultimately, the police found rolled marijuana on the door and a small bag in the car.
Court records show that Williams was arrested and charged with simple possession/casual exchange and Clayborne was cited.
“[The] blunt about what they arrested me for? I asked to see the supervisor. Like, ‘Why am I going to jail? What’s this about?'” 11 Alive reported Williams saying.
While he did not think it was a lot of cannabis, authorities said it was enough to constitute a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee.
Clayborne was freed to go with the children but encouraged to follow police to the Coffee County Criminal Justice Center, where she would be able to bail out Williams. She described to Lookout how when she pulled into the justice center parking lot she was surrounded by Tennessee Department of Children’s Services personnel who threatened to take her children away and insisted she give them a urine sample.
Clayborne did not realize that DCS had already applied for and received an emergency court order to take the children. The agency snatched the children even though the youngest child was still very young and was still being nursed by his mother.
Both Williams and Clayborne were tested for marijuana, but the father was the only one who came up positive for the drug.
Then officials ran a rapid drug test on both of them for harder drugs, including methamphetamines, fentanyl, and oxycodone. To Williams’ surprise, the parents test positive for those drugs also — supporting Tennessee state’s rationale to take the children.
“They did a hair follicle test. It came back in two minutes,” Williams said. “He came back with the paper, wrote in. We done took two more since then. None of them look like that. The people seen this and said, ‘Who the hell did this?’ We don’t partake. How is it possible?”
In March, Mike Lewis, the treatment court’s administrator, said the second test was “not court admissible,” but the test still was used as proof the kids were in danger.
“Both parents submitted to urine and hair follicle tests,” the DCS petition issued on Feb. 23 read. “As a result of the drug screens, the children should be deemed to be severely abused.”
The children, five months old along with 2-, 3-, 5- and 7-year-olds, were brought into the custody of the Tennessee Department of Child Services.
Jamaal Boykin, a Nashville lawyer representing the family in their custody case, said, “It’s just so shocking to the conscience that in 2023 this is happening.”
“I just have to believe if my clients looked different or had a different background, they would have just been given a citation and told you just keep this stuff away from the kids while you’re in this state and they’d be on their way.”
Another attorney for the family, Courtney Teasley, said reuniting the family required efforts of over 10 lawyers across the nation, over 10 for-profit and nonprofit organizations and businesses, a medical expert, a private investigator and a therapist.
“All to undo what should have never been allowed to happen,” Teasley said on Twitter.
At the end of April, a judge made the decision to return the children to Clayborne and Williams, who is currently out on bond.
While the family felt as though they were being torn apart, the father said he had a feeling that things would work out in his family’s favor with the judge.
He still believes no one should be in a position to break somebody’s family up. He plans to fight what he sees as racial discrimination and a violation of his rights in civil court.
Williams’ next criminal hearing will be in Coffee County on May 23.
3 thoughts on “‘Should Have Never Been Allowed’: Couple Whose 5 Kids Were Thrown In Foster Care After Tennessee Traffic Stop Reunited with Children After 2 Months”
I hope you win your lawsuit
If u are black in America, this can happen. Beware.
These occurrences have always been it’s now made more focused through social nevertheless, it’s nasty wrong and unacceptable!