A Black man claims that he was racially profiled after a bank refused to cash his check and called the police on him.
Paul McCowns told Cleveland 19 News that he went to the Huntington branch inside Giant Eagle on Dec. 1 to cash his first check from his new job. McCowns was asked for two forms of ID, which he provided and a fingerprint as he was not a Huntington customer.
McCowns told the local news outlet that the bank employees started looking at the computer screen and questioning the transaction.
“I had got a new job. I worked there for about three weeks,” he said. “They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone,” he said.
The tellers refused to cash the check which was for just over $1,000 and McCowns left the bank.
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car,” McCowns said. They then called the cops on him.
Cleveland 19 News obtained a copy of the 9-1-1 call and police report.
“He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,” said the teller to a 9-1-1 operator.
The operator asked the teller: “Does he know you called 9-1-1?”
The teller responded: “No.”
McCowns then placed in handcuffs and put in the back of a Brooklyn Police cruiser. Just minutes after detaining him, they were able to get in contact with his employer who confirmed that he was indeed, one of their employees and the check was legitimate.
“My employer said, ‘Yes he works for me. He just started and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much.’”
McCowns then cashed the check the next day at another Huntington location without issue.
In a full statement, Huntington stated:
“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.”
McCowns feels he was racially profiled and wants an apology from the branch employees who called the authorities on him.