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BROOKLYN, Ohio (CBS Local) — A bank in Ohio apologized this week for calling the police on a black man who tried to cash his paycheck.
Paul McCowns said he went to a Huntington Bank branch in Brooklyn, a suburb of Cleveland, on Dec. 1 to cash the first check from his new job with an electric company.
First, a teller asked McCowns for two pieces of identification (he presented his driver’s license and social security card). Then he was fingerprinted, which Huntington says is standard for non-bank customers trying to cash checks.
Multiple tellers then debated whether the check was legitimate, and after failing to reach his employer, they handed McCowns back his check, for roughly $1,000. McGowans said he then decided to leave, but didn’t realize the bank had also called police.
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car,” McGowns told CBS affiliate WOIO.
McCowns said he was handcuffed and put in the back of a Brooklyn Police cruiser. Minutes later, police were able to contact McCowns’ employer who confirmed the check was real and that McCowns is 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 believes bank employees racially profiled him.
“It was highly embarrassing, highly embarrassing,” McCowns said.
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event,” Huntington said in a statement. “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.”
McCowns says he wants an apology from the branch and for the tellers to be held accountable.