Darryl Fulton spent 23 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit and the injustices against him did not end when he was finally exonerated and released from prison. When Fulton went to a Chase Bank to try to deposit a check from the state of Illinois for his unjust time behind bars, he was turned away not once, but twice, with very little explanation.
“I’m just trying to deposit my check,” Fulton told the Chicago Tribune. “I just wanted to be treated like anyone else.”
Attorney Kathleen Zellner slammed the bank for not allowing Fulton to deposit his $169,876 check, and now is wondering if Fulton’s race had anything to do with it. According to Zellner, the first time Fulton tried to deposit his money, the bank said that she would have to endorse the check because her firm’s name was underneath Fulton’s, even though it was Fulton’s name in the “pay to the order of” field.
The second time around, Chase claimed that Fulton signed above her name, and so the check would need to be deposited into her account. At this point, Zellner even got in the phone with the bank but employees refused to deposit it.
Chase said it was a mistake to turn Fulton away once, but said that the second incident was all a misunderstanding.
Chase noted it “should have accepted [Fulton’s] check during his initial visit,” though it declined to specifically comment on whether Fulton’s race did, in fact, play a role in his dismissal.
“We did offer to deposit the check on his return visit and have reached out to him to clear up any confusion,” the bank said. “We regret the error and apologize for the inconvenience.”
Zellner however claimed that Chase did not offer to accept the check, noting that Fulton would be changing banks and that he took a new check from her client account to be deposited.
“I find it particularly outrageous because he was wrongfully convicted,” Zellner said. “The check is from the state of Illinois to him and I can’t attribute any other reason except they’re discriminating against him because he’s a black male.”
Fulton was only released back in November, after serving 23 years in prison for the 1994 killing of Antwinica Bridgeman. Nevest Coleman, who had discovered Bridgeman’s body in an abandoned basement of the home where he lived with his family was also implicated in the killing, despite the fact that there was never any physical evidence that linked the two to Bridgeman’s death.
The Tribune reports:
Both men say they were coerced into confessing by detectives with a history of alleged misconduct and immediately recanted. They each described abuse at the hands of Chicago police officers.
Fulton and Coleman were sentenced to life in prison for the murder, but recently discovered DNA evidence matched a serial rapist. Prosecutors dropped charges against the men last winter, and in March a Cook County judge awarded the men certificates of innocence.
Both men have individual civil rights lawsuits pending against the city of Chicago in the case.