US bank 'sorry' for calling police on black man cashing pay cheque

  • Published
Mr McCowns, who was handcuffed by police, called the incident "highly embarrassing"Image source, CBS
Image caption,
Mr McCowns, who was handcuffed by police, called the incident "highly embarrassing"

A bank in Ohio has apologised for calling police on a black man who was attempting to cash his pay cheque.

Paul McCowns, 30, had gone to the Huntington Bank branch in Brooklyn, Ohio - a suburb of Cleveland - with his first cheque from his new job.

After providing two forms of ID and giving his fingerprints, as requested, the bank staff refused to cash the cheque, and asked him to leave.

Unbeknownst to Mr McCowns, they also called police who later detained him.

"It was highly embarrassing," Mr McCowns told Cleveland 19 News.

What exactly happened?

The incident on 1 December occurred after Mr McCowns arrived at the bank to cash his cheque of over $1,000 (£800), earned after three weeks in his new job.

Because he does not have an account with Huntington Bank, they required him to provide two forms of ID, and also insisted that he provide his fingerprints.

After multiple cashiers examined the cheque, he says, they refused to cash it and asked him to leave.

Image source, CBS

But without informing Mr McCowns, they had also called 911 and reported that he was trying to cash a fraudulent cheque.

Police handcuffed him and put him in a squad car as they called his employer, who he said told officers: "'Yes, he works for me, he just started, and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much.'"

In a statement Huntington Bank said it "sincerely apologises to Mr McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event."

Mr McCowns, who cashed his cheque at a different Huntington branch the next day, said the apology was insufficient.

"I want an apology, a sincere apology, mainly from the person who called the cops on me."

According to Brooklyn police, there have been over 10 calls to police about fraudulent cheques from that bank branch alone in the past few months - all of which ended in arrests.

You may also be interested in: