‘Black Panther’ director mistaken for robber, handcuffed at Atlanta bank

ATLANTA — Black Panther director Ryan Coogler was mistaken for a bank robber at a metro Atlanta Bank of America and detained, police reports show.

The incident unfolded on Jan. 7, 2022 at the Bank of America at 1280 West Paces Ferry Road, when police responded to reports of a man trying to rob the bank.

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According to an Atlanta Police Department report, a Bank of America employee called police after Coogler passed her a filled-out withdrawal slip with a note written on the back asking tellers to be discreet with the transaction.

When officers arrived on scene, Coogler was still inside the bank. Officers brought him outside and handcuffed him as they investigated.

New body camera video released by police shows the moments that police handcuffed Coogler and escorted him out of the bank. Another video shows the interview with the teller, who said she got nervous when Coogler would not talk to her and kept telling her to read his note.

“He just kept saying, ‘Look at the note.’ My stomach just started turning because, you’re making a withdrawal, but you hand me a note on the back of a deposit slip? You won’t even talk to me?” the teller, who Channel 2 is not identifying, told police.

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Officers determined that Coogler was attempting to withdraw a cash amount valued over $10,000 dollars. The bank teller received a notification from Coogler’s account and told her manager that he was trying to rob the bank.

Officers released body camera video of their interview with Coogler, who said he was trying to withdraw money to pay a medical assistant on his staff who likes to be paid in cash. He said he usually writes a note on the envelope to ask the teller to handle the request discretely.

“Otherwise, the whole bank ends up looking at us, and I don’t feel safe to get money out like that,” Coogler said to police. “So I usually put a note on the envelope.”

After getting Coogler’s side of the story, officers determined that the incident was a mistake by Bank of America and Coogler was released. Two people who Coogler was with were also detained and released, but never handcuffed.

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Bank of America apologized to Coogler and he was allowed to go on his way.

Bank of America issued a statement confirming the incident, writing:

“We deeply regret that this incident occurred. It never should have happened and we have apologized to Mr. Coogler.”

Channel 2 Action News received a statement from Coogler’s public relations team:

“This situation should never have happened. However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on,” said Coogler.

Coogler directed the original “Black Panther,” which was the highest-grossing film of all time by a Black director. He has been in Atlanta directing the “Black Panther” sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

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