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Ryan Coogler at Cannes Film Festival in 2018. Alamy Stock Photo
Ryan Coogler

Black Panther director mistaken for bank robber while trying to withdraw money

Police have determined that the whole thing was a mistake by the bank employee and Coogler “was never in the wrong”.

FILM 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 on 7 January 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 US dollars, and the bank employee “received an alert notification” from his account and quickly alerted her manager, saying 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 neighbourhood saw a black Lexus SUV parked outside 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.

ryan-coogler-mistaken-for-robber A police officer detains Coogler at the Bank of America branch in Atlanta. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

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 apologised to Mr Coogler,” a statement from Bank of America says.

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 honour as one of the film’s producers. Work on the sequel has been happening in Georgia and it is scheduled for release in November 2022.

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