A bank has apologized for contacting police in an alleged racial profiling incident near Cleveland.
The statement comes after local media reported that a Huntington Bank employee called police on a black man who tried to cash his paycheck, resulting in the man being briefly detained by police.
Cleveland 19 News reported Monday that Paul McCowns attempted to cash a paycheck from a new employer on Dec. 1 at a Huntington Bank branch in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn, Ohio.
Bank employees called police on McCowns, who is not a customer of the bank, after the bank was unable to reach his employer to verify the check, the station reports. McCowns had provided two forms of identification and his fingerprint, in accordance with bank policy, the station says.
A Huntington Bank representative issued an emailed statement to USA TODAY on Wednesday apologizing to McCowns for "this extremely unfortunate event."
NBC reports that McCowns was in his car and in the process of leaving the bank when he was approached by police. He was briefly handcuffed and detained in a police car until police were able to verify the authenticity of the check with McCowns' employer, NBC says.
A 911 call cited by the network says that bank employees called authorities without McCowns' knowledge.
The branch has recently had seen a rash of fraud incidents, The Washington Post reports.
Brooklyn Police Chief Scott Mielke told the paper that police have made at least 10 fraud arrests in connection with the branch since July. And a Huntington Bank spokesman told the paper that employees at the branch were on high alert for fraud.
McCowns told Cleveland 19 News the incident was "highly embarrassing."
The station says McCowns believes there was profiling involved in the bank's treatment of the incident: "The person who made that phone call ... I feel as though that they were judging."
Huntington Bank's full apology and statement about the incident reads:
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event. We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns. Anyone who walks into a Huntington branch should feel welcomed. Regrettably, that did not occur in this instance and we are very sorry. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards in how we operate, hire and train colleagues, and interact with the communities we have the privilege of serving.”
Throughout 2018, numerous alleged racial profiling events have made national headlines.
The stories chronicle police being called to investigate as a black person is doing everyday activities, such as sitting in Starbucks, babysitting children, playing golf, staying at an Airbnb or napping on a couch in a college dorm.