The Atlanta Police Department released bodycam footage Wednesday that showed its officers detaining Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther, after they mistook him for a bank robber in January.
Police showed up to a branch of Bank of America on Jan. 7 after Coogler requested to withdraw $12,000 from his bank account, according to an incident report also released Wednesday.
The 35-year-old director showed his California ID, his bank card, and gave his PIN number, but the bank teller became suspicious when Coogler wrote on the back of the deposit slip to be discreet with the money.
“My stomach started turning,” the bank teller, who was pregnant, told police in the bodycam footage, adding, “I have to protect myself. I have to protect my child.”
Coogler was wearing sunglasses, a hat, and a face mask. Both Coogler and the bank teller are Black.
The bank teller told police on the video that Coogler’s account showed an alert indicating it was a “high-risk transaction.” That’s when she told her manager that she was uncomfortable. She called 911.
Coogler said he was waiting for the bank teller to bring him his money when suddenly he heard the sound of guns being pulled from holsters behind him.
Bodycam footage shows police officers handcuffing Coogler inside the bank, with a close-up of the back of his sweatshirt, which reads “Fear of God.”
“What’s going on?” Coogler asks as he put his hands behind his back.
The officers then bring him outside and put him in the back of the police car.
Coogler explains to officers that the money was for a medical assistant who works for his family who prefers to be paid in cash. He adds that he didn’t want the people around him to know how much money he was taking out and that he regularly gives bank tellers a note when withdrawing cash.
“She got scared when a Black dude handed her a note,” Coogler says to police in the video. “If she was scared, she’s got to admit that.”
While Coogler explains what happened, he also tells officers that he feels he’s about to have a panic attack and is trying to manage his emotions.
“Y’all explaining y’all’s perspective, right,” Coogler says to the police. “Y’all the ones with guns and vests. Y’all understanding what I’m saying? What’s my perspective? What’s my perspective? At the bank, she never shared there was a fucking problem, bro.”
Two people who were waiting for Coogler in a black SUV outside the bank are also handcuffed. After everyone is questioned and the police seem to determine there had been a mistake, Coogler asks for everyone to be removed from handcuffs. The police oblige.
Coogler asks for all the officers’ names. When an officer suggests he write it down, the director says he wasn’t going to reach in his car for a pen or piece of paper.
“I’m not reaching in there, bro,” Coogler says to the police. “I ain’t had guns drawn on me in a while, bro. Y’all understand what I’m saying? I’m trying to get my own money out of my own account. … It’s a major problem, man.”
Police wrote down a list of all the officers involved in the incident as well as the case number and provided it to Coogler, the footage shows.
In the 911 call, the bank teller tells the operator that when she asked Coogler a question about how he wanted the money, he told her to look at the note on the deposit slip.
“I asked for his ID and he handed me his ID,” the teller tells the operator in the 911 call. “It’s a California ID, but I didn’t look at his name because I’m just, like, so shook up. I don’t know what he’s trying to do.”
Coogler is a writer and director whose Oscar-winning and -nominated films include Black Panther and Creed. He is currently in Atlanta filming the sequel to his Marvel hit, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, set to premiere on Nov. 11.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for Bank of America said, “We deeply regret that this incident occurred. It never should have happened and we have apologized to Mr. Coogler.”
Chata Spikes, the public affairs director for the Atlanta Police Department, told BuzzFeed News that the department did not have an individualized comment but sent a link to an updated statement saying that the department had received “many requests” for comment.
“The responding officers acted appropriately given the information they had at the time, and quickly resolved the situation with no injury to anyone involved,” the statement reads.
Coogler did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement reported Wednesday by the New York Times, he said the situation “should never have happened,” but that Bank of America “worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on.”
Source: BuzzFeed News