By Kate Brumback
Movie director Ryan Coogler was briefly handcuffed by Atlanta police after a bank employee mistook him for a robber when he passed her a note while trying to withdraw a large amount of cash from his account.
The “Black Panther” director, who is Black, walked into a Bank of America branch Jan. 7 and passed the bank employee a withdrawal slip with a note written on the back asking her to “be discreet when handing him the cash,” according to a police report. He also had his California state identification card and his Bank of America account card.
He was trying to withdraw more than $10,000, and the bank employee “received an alert notification” from his account and quickly alerted her manager that Coogler was trying to rob the bank, the report says. The bank employee is a Black woman, the report says.
Police responding to the bank branch in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood saw a black Lexus SUV parked out front with the engine running. An officer talked to the male driver who said he was waiting for Coogler, who was inside the bank. A female passenger gave police the same information.
A description of Coogler given by the driver matched the description of the man reported to have been trying to rob the bank, the report says. The officer detained both the driver and passenger in the back of a police vehicle but they were not placed in handcuffs.
Two other officers had gone inside the bank and led Coogler out in handcuffs.
Police determined the whole thing was a mistake by the bank employee and Coogler “was never in the wrong.” The handcuffs were immediately removed and the other two people were released from the back of the patrol vehicle, the report says.
All three were given an explanation and an apology for the bank employee's mistake and Coogler requested the names and badge numbers of the officers on the scene, the report says.
“We deeply regret that this incident occurred. It should never have happened and we have apologized to Mr. Coogler,” a statement from Bank of America says.
A message sent to a representative for Coogler on Wednesday was not returned.
Released in 2018, the Marvel superhero film “Black Panther” became the year’s biggest film release, earning more than a billion dollars worldwide and inspiring “Wakanda Forever” salutes everywhere. The film was nominated for best picture; Coogler shared in the honor as one of the film’s producers. Work on the sequel has been happening in Georgia. The film is scheduled for release in November 2022.
While the director is best known for “Black Panther,” he also co-wrote the “Rocky” spinoff “Creed.” His breakout movie was writing and directing “Fruitvale Station,” about the last day of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by police in the Bay Area in 2009.