A bank in Cleveland, Ohio has apologized after its employees called the police on a black man who was trying to cash his paycheck.
Paul McCowns, 30, told WOIO, a local CBS affiliate, that he had been working for an electric company for “about three weeks” when he went to a Huntington Bank branch to cash his check.
Despite complying with the bank’s policy of providing two forms of identification and a fingerprint, tellers questioned whether McCowns’ check was legitimate. Following unsuccessful attempts to reach his employer, the tellers secretly phoned 911 and said that McCowns had attempted to “cash a check and the check is fraudulent.”
McCowns recounted the “highly embarrassing moment” he was met by authorities as he left the bank. The officers handcuffed him and put him in the back of a police car.
“The person who made that phone call ― that manager, that teller ― whoever made that phone call, I feel as though they were judging,” he said.
In a statement provided to CNN, the Brooklyn Police Department said that McCowns was released after officers made contact with his employer and “confirmed with the account holder the check was valid.”
The bank later apologized for the “extremely unfortunate event.”
“We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns,” Huntington Bank said in a statement. “Anyone who walks into a Huntington branch should feel welcomed. Regrettably, that did not occur in this instance and we are very sorry. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards in how we operate, hire and train colleagues, and interact with the communities we have the privilege of serving.”