Almond Brewer, a Black man, tried to deposit a $3200 check at the Pinal County Federal Credit Union in Apache Junction, Arizona. Sounds like a normal day right? Instead, the manager of the bank decided to call the police on him for having a fake check, according to 12 News.
Something similar like this happened to well-known Black Panther director Ryan Coogler when he tried to withdraw cash from an Atlanta bank. In Minnesota, a Black man was handcuffed for trying to cash his own check at a bank in December 2021.
The manager of the bank initially told police that the check Brewer was trying to deposit was fake. Although, he later admitted that it was “inconclusive” whether the check was fake or not.
According to 12 News, Brewer just sold a boat to a woman on Facebook Marketplace and she paid with a check. His bank advised him to take the check to the woman’s bank so he could get the money quicker.
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He said when he gave that information to the credit union teller, she “kind of looked surprised.”
The Pinal County Federal Credit Union told 12 News the bank manager called 911 after running Brewer’s check through a 3rd party verification system. The results came out inconclusive. The credit union also stated that the manager was able to get ahold of the customer who wrote and verified the check while officers were on their way.
But the police bodycam shows the officers weren’t aware that the customer verified the check for about 10 minutes.
The moment has had a lasting impact on Brewer, a former college and professional basketball player.
“It was just, ‘oh, you know, Black guy locks in his hair, tattoos came on a Harley, you know, let’s assume the worst,’” Brewer said.
“Why embarrass somebody like that? Why, you know, make them feel less than a man,” Brewer asked.
The Pinal County Federal Credit Union stated that the check had “red flags” that gave the impression that it could be fake such as an old credit union logo and routing and accounting number that did not contain the information of the member, according to 12 News.
Brewer said, “I haven’t been inside a bank since.”
The president/CEO of the Pinal County Federal Credit Union released a statement on the incident saying, according to 12 News:
At no time did the staff feel threatened or feel Mr. Brewer was trying to rob the credit union. As authorities were en route the manager was able to get ahold of the member to obtain verbal verification she had written the check. Once the Manager was able to validate the check they apologized to the local authorities as well as Mr. Brewer for the inconvenience. Even with the member’s verification of authenticity, because of the type of check presented and the fact that Mr. Brewer was not a current member we were unable to proceed with the transaction request.
Recently we have seen an uptick in fraudulent activity and this situation echoed other scenarios throughout our other branch locations. Our ultimate responsibility is to ensure our member’s accounts are safe and secure. We at Pinal County Federal Credit Union employ a diverse workforce and undergo Diversity and Inclusion training annually. With locations throughout Pinal County, we not only serve a diverse membership, we actively support and solicit the entire demographic area.
We will revisit our processes to ensure future situations are and in a manner which unnecessarily puts members and/or non-members in an uncomfortable position. Mr. Brewer, on behalf of Pinal County Federal Credit Union, I would like to formally apologize for this confusing experience while visiting one of our branch locations.