COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Georgia couple whose five children were taken away after a traffic stop in Coffee County several months ago just won a legal battle to see what happened during the incident.
The latest fight in this case, which got national attention, centers around Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) body camera and dash camera video.
Back in February, Bianca Clayborne and her partner, Deonte Williams, were traveling from Georgia to Illinois with their family for a funeral when they were pulled over on I-24 in Middle Tennessee. According to an affidavit, they were stopped for having dark-tinted windows and driving in the left lane without passing.
After being pulled over, the THP trooper smelled marijuana and found less than an ounce of it in the vehicle, court documents said. As a result, the parents were charged with a misdemeanor.
Then, a judge allowed the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to take away the couple’s five children — who ranged from four months old to seven years old at the time — for more than a month. However, Clayborne’s attorney confirmed to News 2 the kids were returned home in mid-April.
State officials resisted turning over copies of the dashcam and bodycam footage tied to the traffic stop. Instead, they only wanted the parents to look at the video in person.
On Thursday, June 8, a judge disagreed with the state and allowed the couple to receive a copy of the footage.
“They need to be able to see them so they can understand what the evidence is and so frankly they can be reminded of events that happened several months ago when they frankly were in an emotional state,” said Dawn Deaner, Williams’ attorney. “We need to be able to watch the videos to prepare for their preliminary hearing.”
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The judge put the videos under a protective order, meaning they cannot be shared with the public. However, we could hear and see evidence from the case in a hearing next month.