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‘Black Panther’ Director Handcuffed After Bank Teller Mistakes Him For Robber, Racism Blamed

Atlanta, GA – Bodycam video showed police arresting the director of the movie “Black Panther” in an Atlanta Bank of America when he was mistakenly identified as a bank robber after he handed the teller a note asking her to be discreet (video below).

The police report showed that the incident occurred shortly before 11 a.m. on Jan. 7 at the at the Bank of America branch located in the 1200-block of West Paces Ferry Road, WSB reported.

Police said a Bank of America teller called the police after 35-year-old Ryan Coogler stepped up to the window and passed her a note.

The police report said Coogler handed the bank employee a filled-out withdrawal slip that had a note written on the back that asked the teller to be discreet with the transaction, according to WSB.

Police said that the movie director was attempting to withdraw more than $10,000 in cash, the Hollywood Reporter reported.

“The bank teller then received an alert notification from Mr. Coogler’s account and quickly advised her manager that suspect # 3 (Coogler) is attempting to rob the bank,” the police report read. “911 was alerted and responded.”

When officers arrived at the bank, they found a black Lexus SUV idling outside the entrance with two passengers waiting inside it, the Hollywood Reporter reported.

Officers placed the man and woman who were in the Lexus in a police vehicle but did not handcuff them.

Bodycam video showed two police officers approached Coogler where he was standing at the counter inside the bank and told them they needed to talk to him.

One of the officers took his weapon out of his holster briefly but immediately put it back, the video showed.

The video showed that Coogler followed all of the officers’ instructions and immediately placed his hands behind his back and was handcuffed.

Coogler remained calm and told police he was just trying to take money out of his own account and the officers walked him outside to talk.

Once outside, officers placed Coogler in the back of a patrol vehicle while they figured out what was going on.

The officers explained to the confused movie director that they had received a call that someone was robbing the bank, the video showed.

Coogler told the officers in the video that he was withdrawing cash to pay a medical assistant in his office, and that every time he made the withdrawal for her, the tellers made a big deal about counting out the $12,000 withdrawal.

“If I don’t write down on a note how much I want out, and that I don’t want it ran through the money counter right there at the desk, the whole bank ends up looking at me,” he explained to the officers.

The officers stepped away from Coogler to talk and bodycam showed one of them told the other that the bank teller had started to “freak out” and never even checked the identification to see if the customer she thought was a bank robber was the account holder for the account on the withdrawal slip.

The officer said that if the account number was Coogler’s, he hadn’t done anything wrong, the video showed.

Coogler was taken out of the back of the police car at that point, and was released from custody a few minutes later after his identity was confirmed.

He complained to the officers that he had told them he was taking money out of his own account when they put him in handcuffs, and it was explained to him that officers had to assess the situation and see what was going on before they determined the scene was safe, the video showed.

“Because of the seriousness of the call… unfortunately in a situation like that, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt. We detain and then we ask questions later,” an officer explained.

Bank of America confirmed that Coogler was the owner of the account listed on the withdrawal slip, and officers released him, the video showed.

“It was determined later by Sgt. Fernandez that the incident is a mistake by Bank Of America and that Mr. Coogler was never in the wrong and was immediately taken out of handcuff and that suspects # 1 and # 2 was taken out from the rear of the patrol vehicle,” according to the police report.

“Mr. Coogler, as well as suspect # 1 and # 2, was given an explanation of the incident as well as an apology for the mistake by the Bank Of America. Mr. Coogler requested the name as well as the badge number for all the officers on scene,” the police report read.

Bank management apologized to Coogler and he and his friends were allowed to leave, WSB reported.

“We deeply regret that this incident occurred. It never should have happened and we have apologized to Mr. Coogler,” Bank of America said in a statement afterwards.

Fans and supporters of Coogler, whose “Black Panther” was the highest-grossing film with a black director ever made, were outraged at the treatment he received and expressed their displeasure on social media.

Many pointed out that Coogler doesn’t even have a social media presence.

And despite the bank admitting it was confusion because of a note Coogler had written, some people blamed the entire incident on race.

In the meantime, Coogler has accepted the bank’s apology, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“This situation should never have happened. However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on,” he said in a statement.

Watch the incident unfold in the video below:

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

View all articles
Written by Sandy Malone

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