Black Man goes to US bank to cash his check, gets accused of fraud, is handcuffed and arrested

A Black man reached a settlement with US Bank after he said he was racially profiled during an incident last year where he was handcuffed by police after an employee at a Minnesota branch accused him of trying to cash a fake check.

Joe Morrow, 23, went to cash a check at a US Bank branch in in Columbia Heights last year after he worked a 12-hour shift at his job at a grocery distributor, according to an investigation by KSTP-TV. A bank manager, identified in the report as John Askwith, called the police after he said he suspected the $900 check was fraudulent.

According to KSTP-TV, Morrow, who had an account with the bank and showed identification to the teller, claimed Askwith said, "You people always coming in here with fake checks."

Body camera footage obtained by the outlet shows the moment Morrow was handcuffed by officers inside the establishment, despite his having an account with the bank and showing them identification.

"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-TV.

US Bank did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

 

Before he was handcuffed, Morrow was seated inside of Askwith's office where he told him that he worked for his employer and that he believed this was a "racial" situation. An officer who responded to the scene was inside the room during this exchange.

"Joe, I need you to calm down, first of all, OK?" Sgt. Justin Pletcher could be heard saying in the footage, according to the outlet. "Don't say anything stupid because you're just going to get arrested for it."

KSTP-TV reported that after another officer arrived at the scene, Morrow was handcuffed and moved to a different office.

The bank manager appeared to call Morrow's employer for verification only after police arrived and escorted him out of the office, according to the body camera footage, KSTP-TV reported.

Pletcher's incident report said that Morrow "flexed" at Askwith "in a threatening manner," however Morrow disputed that claim, the local news outlet reported. The bank manager told police that he had recieved "a lot of fraudulent checks" with the employer's logo on them, the report said.

The body camera footage showed Morrow was eventually released from the handcuffs and was debriefed by Sgt. Pletcher, according to the report, adding that the officer later apologized as they were leaving the bank.

The outlet reported that Morrow and US Bank agreed to a confidential settlement.

Andy Cecere, the president and chief executive officer of US Bancorp, issued an apology to the Minneapolis community in a letter on Friday, stating that "I am deeply sorry for where we failed and accept full responsibility."

The letter continued: "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, in addition to other training to prevent bias and negative customer experiences. Sometimes, unfortunately, we don't live up to our goals."

According to the letter, the company is reworking their training programs to ensure that a similar situation does not happen in the future.