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Ryan Coogler, director of the hit movie “Black Panther,” in February 2018 in Washington, DC. Image Credit: The Washington Post

‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler said Wednesday that he was handcuffed and briefly detained in January after he was mistaken for a bank robber while trying to get money from his Bank of America account.

Coogler, regarded as one of Hollywood’s most talented creative minds, confirmed in a statement to The Washington Post that he was detained at a branch in Atlanta.

“This situation should never have happened,” said Coogler, 35. “However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction, and we have moved on.”

Coogler, who is currently filming ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ in Atlanta, entered a Bank of America branch on January 7 wearing sunglasses, a hat and a face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. When he approached the counter, he allegedly handed the teller a withdrawal slip with a note written on the back, according to TMZ, the first to report the news.

This image released by Disney shows Michael B. Jordan, left, and Chadwick Boseman in a scene from Marvel Studios' "Black Panther." Image Credit: Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios-Disney via AP

“I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my checking account,” the note read, according to a police report of the incident. “Please do the money count somewhere else. I’d like to be discreet.”

But the teller — described in the police report as a “pregnant Black female” — misinterpreted the situation as an attempted robbery and alerted her boss. The large withdrawal attempt also set off a computer alert.

When police arrived at the branch in the Buckhead section of the city, officers detained two people in an SUV outside the bank who were waiting for Coogler. Police also handcuffed Coogler, even though his friends described him to police as a “movie producer,” according to the report.

After Coogler gave police his California driver’s license and Bank of America card, authorities said they soon figured out that “the incident is a mistake by Bank of America and that Mr Coogler was never in the wrong.”

Coogler “was immediately taken out of handcuffs” and the two friends who were in the SUV were “taken out from the rear of the patrol vehicle,” police wrote, according to the report. Police said they explained the misunderstanding to the three people and apologised.

A spokesman for Bank of America also confirmed to The Post that the incident happened.

“We deeply regret that this incident occurred,” the spokesman said. “It never should have happened, and we have apologised to Mr Coogler.”

Bank of America declined to comment on whether the employee or the Atlanta branch faced discipline for the incident.

A police spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Coogler, widely considered one of the hottest young directors in Hollywood, has explored social and racial themes in his work. The Bay Area native first broke through with his acclaimed 2013 biographical debut ‘Fruitvale Station,’ centred on the life and 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Black man who died at the hands of Bay Area Rapid Transit police in Oakland.

Coogler also directed and co-wrote ‘Creed,’ the 2015 sports drama that is part of the ‘Rocky’ series. He is best known for the 2018 Marvel Studios blockbuster ‘Black Panther,’ which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including the first Best Picture nomination for a superhero movie. Lauded by critics as an “exhilarating, groundbreaking” cultural force in 2018, ‘Black Panther’ went on to earn more than $1.3 billion in gross worldwide earnings.

Coogler’s sequel, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ is scheduled to be released in November.

The news that Coogler was detained and mistaken for a bank robber stirred widespread criticism of Bank of America from his supporters and media pundits. The NAACP slammed Bank of America for profiling Coogler, who is Black.

“Imagine being a successful and upcoming film director looking to withdraw your OWN money from your OWN bank account discreetly to avoid attention and to maximize your OWN safety, only to be profiled as a bank robber!” the organization tweeted. “Maybe we don’t use @BankofAmerica if we are #BlackInAmerica?”

Jemele Hill of the Atlantic noted that the early reaction to the Coogler news on social media was “starting to feel very Two Americas-ish.” Others, like film executive Franklin Leonard, were stunned that Coogler was detained for simply trying to make a withdrawal from his bank.

“If there was EVER a person who studiously minds his own business and keeps a low profile, it’s Ryan Coogler,” he tweeted.