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Black Man Handcuffed While Trying To Cash Paycheck In Viral Video

Photo: Getty Images

A Black man in Minnesota was handcuffed by police officers after a bank manager called to report what they suspected to be a fake check –– the man’s employer later verified it as real.

Last year, Joe Morrow had finished working a 12-hour shift at a grocery distribution center when he went to a branch of US Bank in Columbia Heights to cash his paycheck.

Even though he had an account with the bank and showed his ID, a bank manager, identified as John Askwith, called the cops on Morrow, telling the dispatcher he suspected the paycheck was fake. In now-viral body camera footage, officers are seen arriving to the bank, where they threatened Morrow with arrest and placed him in handcuffs.

The footage also shows that it was only after the cops arrived and Morrow taken out of the bank manager’s office that the manager called Morrow’s employer to verify the check –– which turned out to be real.

“When I’m coming out of (the manager’s) office, I was handcuffed … people were looking … like I’m a criminal or something,” Morrow told KSTP-5.

According to the news outlet’s report, US Bank initially denied Morrow’s allegation of racial profiling but quietly agreed to a confidential settlement.

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

Officers Responded to a Call for a “Possible Fraudulent Check’

In the incident report, one of the responding officers, Sgt. Justin Pletcher, wrote that Morrow “flexed at John (Askwith) in a threatening manner,” an assertion Morrow completely denies.

“I didn’t threaten him. I got up like I’m mad,” Morrow told KTSP. “They guy told the officer, can you get him out of my office? He might take something on my desk … that’s when I got super mad. I’m going to touch something on your desk?”

University of Minnesota professor Samuel Myers, Jr has been researching racial disparities in banking for years. Myers told KTSP Morrow’s case is not uncommon.

“This is a classic example of where things escalated beyond what they needed to escalate to,” Myers said. “I wish I could say this was an aberration. I wish I could say this was an outlier, but it happens a lot.”

“The fact is these are the experiences that Black people disproportionately encounter and the evidence is indisputable,” Myers added.

The bank manager’s call to officers said that a suspect who refused to leave the bank used a “possible fraudulent check” –– a similar call that was made the day Minneapolis officers arrested and murdered George Floyd –– who was accused of using a fake $20 bill at a convenience store.

Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264

The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001

For more mental health resources, click HERE.

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