A ‘very traumatized’ Tisha Campbell files police report in human-trafficking scare
Actor Tisha Campbell, who claimed last week that she “almost got snatched up” by people she presumed to be human traffickers, has filed a report about the alleged incident with police in South Padre Island, Texas, her representative told The Times on Wednesday.
“She’s very traumatized by the whole thing,” publicist Courtney Barnes said in a phone interview. He said Campbell, who is no longer in Texas, filed the report Monday.
Campbell never mentioned a location in the video she posted to Instagram on Friday, but TMZ published a story naming Brownsville, Texas, as the site of the incident. Barnes said he corrected that information shortly afterward but might have been the source of the misunderstanding.
Barnes said his client had “gathered an understanding” of how traffickers work through her collaboration on a project with anti-trafficking activist Toni D. Rivera. After noticing some red flags, Campbell “got herself out of the situation” that went down outside her hotel.
After nearly a decade in prison for crimes related to being sex trafficked as a minor, Keiana Aldrich was released Thursday night
On Saturday, some skeptics on social media cast doubt on the “Martin” and “House Party” star’s account after Brownsville police said they could not find evidence of any such incident. Some were calling her “Tisha Smollett,” alluding to “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s 2019 attack hoax that unfolded in Chicago and led to a conviction in November.
“Regrettably, our department became aware of Ms. Campbell’s ordeal via social media and not through traditional reporting means as would be expected from a victim of an attempted heinous crime. ... Through numerous interviews and reviews of security camera footage, we could not validate Ms. Campbell’s stay in Brownsville hotels nor any other claims made in the video,” the Brownsville Police Department said Saturday on social media.
But it turned out that although the 53-year-old “My Wife and Kids” actor had been working on an independent film in the Brownsville area, she was staying on South Padre Island, which has its own police department. South Padre is a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, about 30 miles east of Brownsville proper and just north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The South Padre Island Police Department did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for confirmation or comment.
“Don’t freak out, but I think I almost got snatched up,” a visibly upset Campbell said in a video she posted to Instagram on Jan. 28. “So they don’t have Ubers where I’m filming, and I had to call a taxi. So I get this number, but the truck — van that pulls up is real sketchy looking. But there’s a guy in the back seat, right?”
Campbell claims the man jumped out — she said she thought he was getting dropped off, but he wasn’t — and told her to get in.
All four were arrested Tuesday and were in custody based on criminal complaints in Manhattan federal court, officials say.
“He goes, ‘Get in.’ And I go, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘Get in.’ And I go, ‘No!’,” she said in the video.
Then she looked inside the vehicle, which didn’t look like a taxi: It was very dirty and torn up, she said, and the back seat looked like it had been taken out.
“The guy in the front seat, the driver, goes ‘Get in the car,’” which Campbell refused to do. She said the other man started moving toward her, while the driver told her to get in the front seat instead of the back.
She did not, and instead went back inside the hotel.
“What’s crazy is I went back to the front desk, the guy that gave me the taxi number wasn’t there. I asked the woman where he was. She looks at the number and says, ‘Why would he give you this number? This isn’t the normal number,’” Campbell wrote in the caption of the Instagram post. “It was a set up fo real,” she wrote in the Instagram caption. She said in the video that the incident had left her “f— up.”
Campbell also wrote that she was thankful to the film production for its concern and understanding after the incident.
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