A young African American was handcuffed and escorted out of a bank after he was falsely accuse of trying to collect a fraudulent check. Although the incident took place in the city of Columbia Heights (Minnesota, USA) last year, images obtained recently from a body camera provided more details about the threat of arrest suffered by Joe Morrow.
The 23-year-old was trying to cash his $ 900 paycheck at a US Bank branch when US Bank manager John Askwith suspected it might be a fake. The images, obtained by KSTP, revealed that Askwith alerted the police, even though Morrow had a bank account and showed his identification to the cashier.
Joe Morrow went to a @usbank branch to cash his paycheck. The bank accused him of fraud, then he was threatened with arrest and handcuffed. Joe’s paycheck was real. See the bodycam video from a responding officer and watch @Eric_Rasmussen‘s story tonight at 10pm on @KSTP. pic.twitter.com/xVgVN8DY7i
— Tracy Maher (@tracym) December 7, 2021
The check turned out to be real and according to the recording of the body camera of one of the agents, the manager did not verify it with the employee who attended the young man until he was handcuffed. “When I came out of (the manager’s) office I was handcuffed, people would look like I was a criminal or something,” Morrow explained.
Two policemen came to the scene after to receive a notice about “a possible fraudulent check” and the presence of a suspicious person who refused to leave. In the video, captured by Sgt. Justin Pletcher’s camera, Morrow can be seen sitting in the bank manager’s office, attempting to prove his innocence. “I work there, brother. And I’m going to report you too, brother. This is racial“Morrow told Askwith, whose words elicited a reaction from Pletcher.
“Joe, first of all, I need you to calm down, okay?” Said the agent. “Don’t say anything stupid because they are going to arrest you for it“Moments later, the young man was handcuffed. Pletcher’s police report stated that Morrow” made fun of John (Askwith) in a threatening manner. “
“I did not threaten him. I got up, because I was angry,” said the young man. “The guy said to the officer, can you get him out of my office? Could you take something from my desk, that’s when I got really mad. Am I going to touch something on your desk?”
Apologies from the bank
For his part, US Bank Chairman and CEO Andy Cecere issued an apology days after the police camera recordings were released and triggered multiple outrage reactions by civil rights attorneys, other people of color who shared similar experiences, as well as experts on racial profiling. “I deeply regret the failure and accept full responsibility”, advertisement Cecere in a statement issued on December 10.
“What Mr. Morrow experienced is not the experience any customer should have. All of our employees, including executive management, are required to complete two levels of unconscious bias training, plus other training to prevent biases and negative customer experiences. Sometimes, unfortunately, we do not meet our objectives, “he said.
It was not because of “the client’s race or ethnicity.”
However, the spokesperson for the bank identity, Lee Henderson, previously claimed that an internal investigation determined that there was no “nothing to indicate“That Morrow was treated this way because of the color of his skin.” At US Bank, we are committed to justice for all people we serve regardless of race, “the spokesperson stated.
“After a thorough internal investigation, there is nothing to indicate that the customer’s race or ethnicity influenced the service they received at this branch,” he said.
According to Morrow’s attorneys, US Bank reached a confidential settlement with its client last month, just weeks after the incident came to light and gained prominence. However, reports suggest that the branch manager who called the police still works at US Bank and is “reviewing the situation.”