Staff at a bank in Ohio called police on a black man trying to cash his paycheck

An African-American man who couldn't cash his paycheck at a Huntington bank in Brooklyn, Ohio, says the staf...

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 1:43 PM
Updated: Dec 20, 2018 1:43 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.

African Americans

Continents and regions

Demographic groups

Midwestern United States

Minority and ethnic groups

North America

Ohio

Population and demographics

Society

The Americas

United States

Brooklyn

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Law enforcement

New York (State)

New York City

Northeastern United States

Policing and police forces

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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 147582

Reported Deaths: 3937
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24410780
Lake12911350
St. Joseph8651154
Elkhart8281130
Allen7756221
Hamilton5872113
Vanderburgh547750
Tippecanoe346414
Monroe316238
Hendricks3116130
Johnson2947127
Porter288948
Clark280857
Delaware277174
Vigo245534
Madison224587
Cass220120
LaPorte208853
Warrick185362
Floyd170865
Kosciusko169221
Howard155366
Bartholomew137557
Dubois133423
Marshall129826
Henry120728
Boone117748
Grant116839
Wayne114923
Hancock112844
Noble110033
Jackson106412
Morgan90840
Dearborn89528
Daviess82732
Gibson8229
Clinton80116
Shelby76929
Lawrence76732
LaGrange76114
Harrison72924
Putnam69415
Knox68610
DeKalb67411
Posey6695
Steuben5798
Miami5655
Montgomery55722
Fayette55615
White55615
Jasper5264
Greene50537
Scott50313
Decatur49339
Adams4555
Clay4266
Whitley4246
Ripley4138
Sullivan40612
Wells4045
Orange38124
Starke3787
Wabash3769
Spencer3656
Huntington3645
Franklin35925
Jennings35813
Washington3452
Randolph3318
Jefferson3275
Fulton3232
Pike31512
Carroll30513
Perry28214
Jay2756
Fountain2733
Tipton26123
Parke2152
Newton20511
Vermillion2031
Owen1991
Rush1984
Martin1930
Blackford1843
Crawford1401
Pulaski1401
Brown1283
Ohio1167
Benton1060
Union1010
Switzerland840
Warren721
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 181787

Reported Deaths: 5067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30590635
Cuyahoga19212671
Hamilton15890338
Montgomery9883184
Lucas8058370
Butler7856122
Summit6406260
Warren393360
Stark3605178
Mahoning3567283
Marion332149
Pickaway294646
Delaware275927
Lorain262389
Fairfield254156
Licking241065
Wood240181
Clark231654
Clermont225936
Trumbull2174134
Greene210840
Columbiana207887
Allen195873
Miami191056
Lake184757
Medina175542
Portage153067
Mercer143327
Ross130533
Wayne125968
Richland125724
Tuscarawas117822
Athens11452
Erie111453
Darke108850
Madison101314
Hancock97520
Auglaize92716
Lawrence88524
Putnam86127
Shelby85014
Geauga81950
Muskingum8174
Scioto7709
Belmont76827
Union7203
Ashtabula71348
Huron6909
Sandusky69022
Seneca57614
Preble57417
Ottawa55930
Holmes53710
Fulton4726
Henry44217
Jefferson4384
Defiance43713
Clinton42013
Jackson4197
Fayette4188
Crawford4088
Logan3923
Champaign3783
Highland3714
Ashland3705
Brown3583
Knox35215
Perry35011
Washington32423
Morrow3222
Williams3124
Hardin30913
Coshocton28612
Pike2780
Wyandot27813
Gallia27413
Guernsey2688
Van Wert2153
Meigs20512
Adams1936
Hocking1899
Carroll1887
Paulding1791
Monroe14118
Noble1120
Vinton853
Harrison763
Morgan690
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 46°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 45°
Huntington
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 46°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 44°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 44°
Cloudy Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events