Bank calls 911 on black man cashing check

A man who was trying to cash a check at a bank in Brooklyn, Ohio says the teller who called 911 was "judging" him.

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 4:23 PM
Updated: Dec 20, 2018 4:56 PM

An African-American man who couldn't cash his paycheck at a Huntington bank in Brooklyn, Ohio, says the staff was "judging" him.

Paul McCowns, 30, told CNN affiliate WOIO he recently got a new job and was trying to cash his first paycheck earlier this month, but the tellers wouldn't cash the check, which was just over $1,000.

Although McCowns didn't specify he was being racially profiled, social media has picked up the hashtag #BankingWhileBlack upon hearing about the incident. The hashtag is very similar to those seen in the past, such as #BarbecuingWhileBlack, #BabysittingWhileBlack and #CampaigningWhileBlack, which were coined after a white person called the police on black people while they were seen doing day-to-day activities.

As he was leaving the bank emptyhanded, McCowns was met by Brooklyn Police, handcuffed and placed in the back of a cruiser. When McCowns asked what was happening, the officer said the bank's teller had called 911.

"I have a customer here -- he's not our customer, actually. He's trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records," a bank employee says on a recording of the 911 call obtained by CNN.

McCowns doesn't bank with Huntington and its staff was not able to reach his employer at first, but he followed bank protocol and provided the tellers with two forms of identification and a fingerprint. The bank still declined to cash his check.

"It was highly embarrassing, highly embarrassing," McCowns told WOIO. "The person who made that phone call — that manager, that teller — whoever made that phone call, I feel as though they were judging."

The Brooklyn Police Department said in a statement that McCowns was released once officers reached his employer and "confirmed with the account holder the check was valid."

"We were called to the bank on the report of a fraudulent check. We were given a description of the individual. When we arrived the male was leaving in his vehicle. He was not arrested but he was detained until our officers could figure out what was going on," Brooklyn Police Chief Scott Mielke said in a statement obtained by CNN.

According to the police statement, the bank branch has had more than 10 arrests for fraudulent checks since July 18, and a bank representative told WOIO that was why the tellers were being "hyper-vigilant."

The bank has released a statement apologizing to McCowns.

"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," Huntington said.

McCowns later cashed his paycheck at a different Huntington branch, with no inconvenience, WOIO reported.

CNN has reached out to McCowns for further comment.

Huntsville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 75°
Florence
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 76°
Fayetteville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 73°
Decatur
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 75°
Scottsboro
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 75°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 196139

Reported Deaths: 2454
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31202472
Davidson26874312
Hamilton968795
Knox968180
Rutherford952392
Williamson542336
Sumner492298
Wilson360547
Putnam338344
Montgomery317446
Unassigned30834
Madison306366
Bradley298817
Out of TN293927
Sevier267715
Blount258924
Maury245726
Washington239338
Sullivan226533
Robertson225539
Hamblen196528
Tipton186019
Gibson174625
Trousdale16757
Hardeman158926
Wayne15055
Dyer143017
Bedford138017
Coffee130214
Dickson129716
Fayette123621
Weakley123421
Loudon12267
Anderson122413
Cumberland122319
Obion122011
Carter119928
Henderson119524
Greene118546
McMinn117626
Jefferson116114
Lawrence110814
Warren10857
Monroe108319
Hardin107716
Macon107021
Lauderdale101716
Franklin101010
Haywood100623
McNairy93018
Lake9282
Carroll91720
Roane9176
Bledsoe8644
Rhea86315
White85610
Hawkins84320
Cheatham8289
Marshall7915
Overton7826
Cocke75910
Johnson7523
Smith74511
Giles65417
Chester65311
Lincoln6461
Henry64010
Hickman6128
Fentress5884
DeKalb57614
Crockett55819
Marion5558
Decatur5387
Campbell4674
Claiborne4495
Polk41010
Grainger4043
Union3822
Benton3428
Jackson3355
Grundy3266
Morgan3253
Cannon3041
Unicoi2921
Humphreys2683
Sequatchie2493
Clay2435
Houston2432
Meigs2313
Scott2252
Stewart2232
Lewis2111
Moore1881
Van Buren1670
Perry1530
Pickett1312
Hancock1093

Community Events