Black Panther director Ryan Coogler mistaken for bank robber and detained
LOS ANGELES (NY TIMES) - Bank of America has apologised to director Ryan Coogler after he was assumed to be a bank robber and briefly handcuffed by police while trying to withdraw money from a branch in Atlanta in January.
Coogler, best known for directing Black Panther, had handed a teller a withdrawal slip on Jan 7, asking for more than US$10,000 (S$13,600), with a note on the back asking her to "be discreet when handing him the cash", according to a police report.
Atlanta police released video footage of the incident on Wednesday (March 9).
Coogler had his California state identification card as well as his Bank of America card when he approached the teller. Both Coogler and the teller are black.
The teller "received an alert notification" from Coogler's account and quickly advised her manager that he was trying to rob the bank branch.
Police were called and they found an SUV parked in front of the bank.
The driver identified Coogler as a movie producer and said he was waiting for Coogler while he was making a transaction inside the bank. A woman who was a passenger in the SUV gave the same information.
The officers said they detained the driver and passenger and placed them in a patrol car. They then removed Coogler, who was wearing a cap, sunglasses and a mask, from the bank in handcuffs and determined that he was not a bank robber, according to the police report.
Police confirmed that the episode resulted from a "mistake by Bank of America and that Mr Coogler was never in the wrong", according to the report, which added that Coogler was immediately taken out of handcuffs and that the two others were taken out of the patrol car.
All three were "given an explanation of the incident as well as an apology for the mistake by the Bank of America", the report stated.
In a statement on Wednesday, Coogler said, "This situation should never have happened."
In 2019, Black Panther became the first Marvel film to secure an Oscar nomination for best picture. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won in three categories, including best original score and best costume design.