Justice Department closes its civil rights investigation into Hollywood couple traffic stop in S.C.



You might want to think twice before driving around South Carolina with tea bags.

A deputy with the Marion County Sheriff's Department stopped a black couple, actors from Hollywood, touring the Palmetto State and allegedly made "menacing remarks" and asked whether they had illicit substances. When they said they did not, Deputy Shad Barfield asked Dennis White and Cherie Johnson to exit their vehicle and handcuffed them.

Barfield found no drugs and "wrongly asserted, in the process, that a tea bag in the couples' possession contained marijuana."

The case prompted a Justice Department civil rights investigation, which just closed. Johnson is best known for her roles in Punky Brewster and Family Matters, and White, from the movie Notorious.

Johnson and White selected Charlotte attorney Ken Harris to represent them in the case. Harris issued a statement following the Justice Department's announced closure of the case.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) determination has very little to do with our decision concerning the filing of State Civil or Federal Civil right claims on behalf of Mr. White and Ms. Johnson. We have corresponded on multiple occasions with the Marion County Sheriff's Department but have received no response whatsoever. We have now selected South Carolina counsel to handle this matter and we will be concluding our investigation in the near future."

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