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Footage Shows Minnesota Man Wrongfully Detained While Attempting To Cash A Check At Bank

Video has surfaced from a U.S. Bank in Minnesota, showing the branch wrongfully detaining Joe Morrow, a Black man, who entered the local bank to cash his paycheck after working a 12-hour shift as an “order picker” at a grocery store.

A bank manager had Morrow placed in handcuffs despite already having an account with the bank and showing his I.D. upon entry, KSTP reported.

According to police body camera footage, the manager told officers that he suspected a check was fake but he didn’t call to verify the origin of the paycheck with Morrow’s employer until after the man was escorted from the building with a police entourage. It was later determined that the check was 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 the outlet. 

Morrow entered the bank to cash his $900 paycheck. He said the incident started as soon as he presented the paper check to the teller. 

“They were all looking at me and just staring at me. And then looking at the check and then staring at me again and I’m already knowing what they’re thinking – that the check [is] fake,” Morrow said. “The manager? He came over and said, ‘Joe Morrow? Your check [is] fake.’ And I said, ‘what?'”

“He said, ‘you people always coming in here with fake checks,” he added.

Morrow was seen on footage captured by Sgt. Justin Pletcher, sitting back with arms folded as he refused to leave bank manager John Askwith’s office. Askwith is blurred and muted in the police’s video since he didn’t consent to being recorded at the time.

“I work there, bro. And I’m going to report you too, bro. This is racial,” Morrow said to Askwith in the video. 

At several points, Morrow is told to calm down despite appearing calm in the footage.

“Joe, I need you to calm down, first of all, OK?” Pletcher said. “Don’t say anything stupid because you’re just going to get arrested for it.”

Pletcher wrote in the incident report that Morrow stood up to Askwith in a “threatening manner.” Though, Morrow said he didn’t have any intentions to inflict violence. 

“I didn’t threaten him. I got up, like, I’m mad,” Morrow said. “The 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?”

Askwith told officers that he’d been seeing numerous fake checks under the UNFI logo.

“I got the check stub and it’ll say what day it started and all that and how many hours I worked… I could’ve came in here and showed them that,” Morrow told the officer.

Morrow, who moved to Minnesota from Mississippi in 2020, has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Bank in question for the incident. 

“They’ve never responded formally, they’ve never taken any accountability, they’ve never truly apologized to Mr. Morrow,” his attorney, Rich Hechter, told KSTP in October. “I really thought that the bank would be upfront about this, (that) they would be apologetic.”

The bank responded to the incident in October via statement from spokesperson Lee Henderson declaring that they are “committed to fairness toward everyone we serve regardless of race.” Henderson added: “We dispute the facts as they’re being portrayed to you.”

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