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'Black Panther' director handcuffed, wrongly accused of attempting to rob Atlanta bank

The award-winning director said he has "moved on" after Bank of America addressed the situation.

ATLANTA — "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler said he has now "moved on" after he was placed in handcuffs, and mistakenly accused of trying to rob a bank in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood back in January.

According to a report from the Atlanta Police Department, two officers responded to a bank hold-up call at the Bank of America at 1280 West Paces Ferry Road on Jan. 7.

Officers confronted a man and a woman parked in front of the bank inside a black Lexus SUV. Police said the couple thought officers were going to ask them to move their vehicle.

They told police they were waiting for movie producer Ryan Coogler, who was making a transaction inside, according to the report.

Police said they asked them to provide a description of Coogler, which police said matched the description of a possible suspect who the 911 caller had said was trying to rob the Bank of America. 

The man and the woman were then handcuffed and separately detained in the back of marked police patrol cars, while officers continued "conducting an investigation."


Then officers went inside, and saw the man later identified as Coogler standing at a teller window; they handcuffed him and walked him out of the bank.

According to the report, the award-winning director came to the bank to withdraw over $10,000--specifically $12,000, according to the teller's statement to police--from his account by writing a note on the back of a withdrawal slip, in an effort to be discreet. 

But the bank teller then "received an alert" from Coogler's account, and she told her manager there was an attempt to rob the bank, the report states. That's when emergency responders were summoned. 

"I heard somebody asked if I passed a note?" Coogler asked officers from the back of an APD patrol vehicle in the police body camera video. 

Officers speaking with Coogler explained they were responded to a reported robbery.

"From when we got the call it seemed like someone was trying to rob the bank. Something about you passing a note to the teller, something to that effect," the officer is heard saying on video.

Coogler explained he was trying to pay a medical assistant that works for him who prefers to be paid in cash. 

"Every time I make a withdrawal to pay her because it's a large amount," he said, "If I don't write down on a note how much I want out -- and I don't want it ran through the money counter right there at the desk -- the whole bank ends up looking at me."

Coogler explained he doesn't feel safe getting large sums of money out so publicly, and he's often requested money in a similar fashion.

"I don't understand what's going on," he said. 

In the body camera video, an APD officer said those involved in the situation were detained in order to understand the incident and why police were called to the scene.

"I got to be honest with you, y'all never asked me what was going on," Coogler said from the backseat of a patrol vehicle. He proceeds to calmly ask officers for a moment to get his emotions in order before continuing to answer their questions. 

"Officer let me ask you a question, sir. You're talking to me right now and I'm cuffed in the back of your car," he said. "Is there any reason we can't have this conversation once you get these cuffs off of everybody?"

APD officers are seen complying with his request. In their preliminary investigation, a report revealed Coogler was, in fact, the man who the couple said he was. He had his California identification and his Bank of America card on him at the time.

Officers later said in the report that Bank of America made a mistake and that Coogler was never doing anything wrong. Police then released the man and the woman from their patrol cars and unshackled Coogler from handcuffs. 

The report states authorities explained the misunderstanding to all three people and apologized to them.

Coogler asked for the name and badge numbers of all Atlanta Police officers on the scene, according to the report. He later told TMZ, "This situation should never have happened. However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on."

Bank of America, in a statement to 11Alive said: "We deeply regret that this incident occurred. It never should have happened and we have apologized to Mr. Coogler."

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