/“It hurts”: Ohio bank calls police on black man cashing first check

“It hurts”: Ohio bank calls police on black man cashing first check

A bank has apologized after a clerk called police on a black man trying to cash his paycheck. Paul McCowns visited Huntington bank at the Giant Eagle supermarket on Biddulph Ave in Brooklyn, Ohio, on December 1.

The electric company worker wanted to cash his first check from a new job which totaled at around $1,082. Staff asked him to provide two forms of ID. He also gave his fingerprint, as is policy for individuals who aren’t Huntington account holders, he told CBS-affiliate Cleveland News 19. 

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But despite following protocols, workers at the bank questioned the transaction, McCowns said. They then repeatedly tried to call his boss to ask whether the check was fraudulent.

When his employer didn’t pick up the phone, bank staff told McCowns he couldn’t cash the check at the branch, and he left. Unknown to McCowns, a Huntington employee had called the police.

In a 911 call obtained by Cleveland 19, a teller told the operator McCowns was trying to cash a “fraudulent check” which he claimed did not match the bank’s records.

As McCowns left the bank, he was stopped by police, who handcuffed him and detained him in the back of their car. A few minutes later, police were able to get in contact with McCowns’s employer, who confirmed his identity and how much he was due to be paid.

huntington bank
A branch of the Huntington bank in Rochester Michigan, which was unrelated to McCowns’ case. The company has apologized to McCowns after he was detained by police for trying to cash his pay check. Getty Images

Brooklyn Police told Cleveland 19 there was no evidence to suggest McCowns had committed fraud. McCowns claimed he had been racially profiled. “It hurts,” McCows told Cleveland 19.

The next day, McCowns said he was able to get his money without a problem at another Huntington branch. 

Huntington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement sent to Celeveland 19, the bank said: “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 said an apology from the bank’s spokesperson wasn’t enough, and he expected the branch to reach out and the clerks to be disciplined, Cleveland 19 reported.

A representative of Huntington told the broadcaster they had tried to contact McCowns on a number of occasions to say sorry, but they claimed he did not return their calls.

The incident comes after a black woman said in November that she was racially profiled in a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Fairfax, Virginia, after the owner called the police on her following an argument over the Wi-Fi.

A Dunkin’ Donuts spokesperson told Newsweek at the time that the company had apologized to White. “We and our franchisees want every customer who walks into a Dunkin’ restaurant to be treated with dignity and respect. This did not happen in a situation at a restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia,” the spokesperson said.