‘Black Panther’ Director Ryan Coogler Wrongly Handcuffed at Bank by Police

Celebrated Black director Ryan Coogler was trying to take out $12,000 from his checking account when the bank called the cops on him.
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When Ryan Coogler, the award-winning Black director of Black Panther and Creed, tried to withdraw $12,000 from his Bank of America checking account earlier this year in Atlanta, what should have been a mundane transaction took a nightmarish turn. 

Suspicious that Coogler was trying to rob the bank, the teller notified her manager, and the police showed up. Eventually, two Atlanta Police Department officers approached the Oakland-born director. One briefly drew his gun, and the other handcuffed him. They also detained two of his friends waiting outside.

On Jan. 7, 2022, Coogler was waiting for bank employees to complete his transaction when a police officer called out to him and asked him to step away from the counter, according to police body camera footage obtained and edited by TMZ. A second officer standing behind Coogler then takes his gun out of his holster before quickly replacing it.

“Whoa, whoa, what’s going on,” Coogler, 35, asks as officers ask him to put his hands behind his back. “Hands behind my back, OK, you got it, you got it. Is there a reason why you’re doing this, bro?”

The footage then cuts to Coogler, who’s handcuffed, standing near a police vehicle outside as he tells police to check his work badge hanging from his waist.

“It’ll tell you everything about me,” Coogler tells the cops. “If you just run my name, you’ll understand why you should take off these cuffs.”

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In all, the entire ordeal took about 15 minutes, according to Variety.

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Ryan Coogler accepts the award for outstanding motion picture for "Black Panther" at the 50th annual NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Coogler’s experience is just the latest in a long line of law-abiding Americans having the cops called on them simply for being Black. Just last year, a Black realtor in Wyoming, Michigan, was handcuffed and had guns drawn on him while he was showing a home to a Black man and his teenage son. A neighbor called the police on them and accused them of breaking in.

In 2020, a Detroit bank refused to deposit a check from a Black man who had just received a settlement related to a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against his employers. The bank instead called the cops to investigate him for fraud.

According to the police report of the incident obtained by the New York Times, Coogler entered the bank, located in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, with a note asking to withdraw money, according to the Times.

“I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my checking account,” the note Coogler passed to the teller read. “Please do the money counter somewhere else. I’d like to be discreet.”

Coogler explains on body camera video that he was withdrawing money to pay a medical physician he employs at his home. The woman, who was the passenger in the SUV that police first approached, prefers to be paid in cash.

“Every time I make a withdrawal to pay her, because it’s a large amount and she works a lot, if I don’t write down on a note how much I want out and I don’t want it ran through the money counter right there at the desk, the whole bank ends up looking at me,” he said. “I don’t feel safe taking money out like that.”

Despite handing over both his bank card and his California state ID with the note, the bank teller received an alert notification from Coogler’s account, according to the police report as reported by the Times. The teller then told her manager about the notification and informed them that Coogler was trying to rob the bank. The police were called sometime immediately after.

When police arrived, they first approached an SUV parked outside and questioned two individuals seated within, according to the police report. The driver and passenger told police they were there waiting for Coogler, who they said was a movie producer, to finish a transaction inside. After providing a description of Coogler, the two individuals were detained and police sat them both in a police vehicle.

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

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

The Atlanta Police Department told VICE News they released body camera footage from the incident to allow the public to see what happened to Coogler.

“​​The responding officers acted appropriately given the information they had at the time, and quickly resolved the situation with no injury to anyone involved,” an APD spokesperson said in an email.

After removing his handcuffs, one of the officers asks Coogler on body camera footage if he ever considered telling someone at the bank to meet with a manager in an office instead of communicating his request via a written note.

“I’ll consider it now that you guys fucking drew guns on me while I was trying to take money out,” he tells the officer. “But up to this point, every Bank of America I’ve been gone to in my entire fucking life, this never happened.”

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