Paul McCowns is a Cleveland, Ohio man who accused a bank of racially profiling him after they called 911 when he tried to cash a check, WOIO reported.
McCowns told the station that he went into a Huntington bank to cash the first check from his new job at an electric company.
After he submitted two forms of ID and his fingerprint, tellers told him that he could not cash the check — which was just over $1,000 — because they could not reach his employer by phone.
When he left the bank, police officers stopped him because a bank employee reported that his check was fake.
McCowns was handcuffed and detained before he was set free several minutes later when police confirmed the check was real and he was an employee.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Paul McCowns Just Got a New Job at an Electric Company
McCowns told WOIO that he had just received his first pay check after starting a new job at an electric company about three weeks earlier.
“I had got a new job. I worked there for about three weeks,” he said.
He said the first check was for a little more than $1,000.
2. The Bank Refused to Let Paul McCowns Cash His Check
McCowns said he went to a Huntington bank branch inside Giant Eagle on Biddulph Ave in Brooklyn on December 1st.
He provided the teller with two forms of ID, which the bank confirmed. The teller also asked McCowns to provide a fingerprint, which is required under the bank’s policy for non-customers who want to cash a check.
The teller questioned the transaction and called his employer.
“They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone,” he said.
The bank said that he could not cash the check so he left the branch.
3. Bank Employees Called Police & Claimed The Check Was Fake
As he left the bank, employees called the police, according to 911 records.
“He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,” the teller told the 911 operator.
“Does he know you called 911?” the operator asks.
“No,” the teller responded.
4. Police Handcuffed McCowns Before Learning The Check Was Real
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car,” McCowns said.
McCowns was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser.
Minutes later police released him after reaching his employer, who confirmed that the check was real and the McCowns was an employee.
“My employer said yes he works for me. He just started and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much,” McCowns explained.
McCowns said he cashed his check at a different location the next day without any issues.
5. Bank Apologizes For Calling Police on McCowns
McCowns accused the tellers of racially profiling him and said he wants them held accountable.
The bank released a statement saying:
We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event. We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns. 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.