When Ryan Coogler, the award-winning black director of Black Panther and Creedattempted to withdraw $12,000 from his Bank of America bank account earlier this year in Atlanta, which should have been a mundane transaction took a nightmarish turn.
Suspecting that Coogler was attempting to rob the bank, the teller informed her manager and the police showed up. Eventually, two officers from the Atlanta Police Department approached the Oakland-born director. One briefly drew his gun and the other handcuffed him. They also detained two of his friends who were waiting outside.
On January 7, 2022, Coogler was waiting for bank employees to complete his transaction when a police officer called him and asked him to move away from the counter, according to police body camera footage obtained and edited by TMZ. A second officer standing behind Coogler then pulls his gun out of its holster before quickly replacing it.
“Whoa, whoa, what’s going on,” asks Coogler, 35, as officers ask him to put his hands behind his back. “Hands behind my back, OK, you got it, you got it. Is there a reason you’re doing this bro?”
The footage then shows Coogler, who is handcuffed, standing by a police vehicle outside as he tells police to check his work badge hanging from his waist.
“That’ll tell you all about me,” Coogler told the cops. “If you throw out my name, you’ll understand why you should take those handcuffs off.”
In all, the entire ordeal lasted about 15 minutes, according to Variety.
Coogler’s experience is just the latest in a long line of law-abiding Americans who called in the cops just because they were black. Just last year, a black real estate agent in Wyoming, Michigan was handcuffed and had guns pointed at him as he showed a house to a black man and his teenage son. A neighbor called the police and accused them of breaking in.
In 2020, a Detroit bank refused to deposit a check from a black man who had just received a settlement related to a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against his employers. The bank instead called the cops to investigate him for fraud.
According to the police report on the incident obtained by the New York TimesCoogler walked into the bank, located in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, with a note asking to withdraw cash, according to the Times.
“I would like to withdraw $12,000 in cash from my checking account,” reads the note Coogler passed to the cashier. “Please do the money counter elsewhere. I would like to be discreet.
Coogler explains on the body camera video that he was withdrawing money to pay a doctor he employs at his home. The woman, who was the passenger in the SUV police first approached, prefers to be paid in cash.
“Every time I make a withdrawal to pay her, because it’s a big sum and she works a lot, if I don’t write on a note how much I want to go out and I don’t want it to go through the cash desk there in the office, the whole bank ends up looking at me,” he said. “I don’t feel safe withdrawing money like that.
Despite handing over his bank card and California ID with the note, the bank teller received an alert notification from Coogler’s account, according to the police report reported by the Times. The cashier then told her manager about the notification and informed him that Coogler was trying to rob the bank. The police were called shortly after.
When police arrived, they first approached an SUV parked outside and questioned two people sitting inside, according to the police report. The driver and passenger told police they were waiting for Coogler, who they said was a film producer, to complete a transaction inside. After providing a description of Coogler, the two individuals were arrested and police seated them both in a police vehicle.
“This situation should never have happened,” Coogler said in a statement Wednesday. “However, Bank of America worked with me and resolved it to my satisfaction and we moved on.”
“We deeply regret that this incident has occurred,” Bank of America said in a statement. “This should never have happened, and we have apologized to Mr. Coogler.”
The Atlanta Police Department told VICE News they released body camera footage of the incident to allow the public to see what happened to Coogler.
“The responding officers acted appropriately given the information available to them at the time and quickly resolved the situation without harm to those involved,” an ODA spokesperson said in an email. .
After removing his handcuffs, one of the officers asks Coogler in body camera footage if he ever considered telling someone at the bank to meet a manager in an office instead of communicating his request via a written note.
“I’ll think about it now that you fired guns at me while I was trying to withdraw money,” he told the officer. “But up until now, every Bank of America I’ve been to in my fucking life, that’s never happened.”
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