A black Ohio man says he was racially profiled at a Cleveland bank when employees called the cops on him for trying to cash the first check from his new job with an electric company.
“I had got a new job. I worked there for about three weeks,” Paul McCowns tells Cleveland 19.
Huntington branch asked McCowns for two forms of ID and a fingerprint, which both he and bank employees confirm he provided.
McCowns said bank employees began looking at the computer screen and questioning the transaction.
“They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone,” he said.
He said the paycheck was for a little more than $1,000.
When tellers informed him that they couldn’t cash it, he 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.
As McCowns was walking to his truck, a bank teller had called 911 on him.
“He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,” said the teller to a 911 operator, according to the 911 call and police report obtained by Cleveland 19.
The operator asks the teller: “Does he know you called 911?”
“No,” the teller responds.
McCowns was handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser.
Minutes later, police were able to get in touch with McCowns employer who confirmed the check was real and that 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 the check the next day at another Huntington location without incident.
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 says he wants the bank to issue an apology and for the tellers to be held accountable.