‘Black Panther’ Director Ryan Coogler Was Wrongly Targeted as a Bank Robber: ‘Never Should Have Happened’

"This situation never should have happened," said Coogler of the incident, which found him briefly detained after attempting to withdraw $12,000.
Ryan Coogler arrives at IndieWire Honors on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, at No Name Bar in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Ryan Coogler
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

In a story first revealed by TMZ, “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler was held by Atlanta police in January of this year after he was wrongly targeted as a bank robber at a Bank of America branch. Coogler was detained after stopping at the bank to make a completely legal transaction. The director confirmed to Variety that “Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on,” adding that “this situation never should have happened.”

TMZ reported its story based off an Atlanta PD report, which shows that Coogler, 35, was attempting to make a transaction in a hat, sunglasses, and COVID face mask. Walking up to the counter, he handed the teller a withdrawal slip with a note written on the back that, according to the report, read, “I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my checking account. Please do the money count somewhere else. I’d like to be discreet.”

This raised suspicion with the teller (who, according to police reports, was a pregnant Black woman, but her identity has not been verified by Atlanta police or other reports). The teller misunderstood the situation as an attempt at robbery once the particular amount of the transaction triggered an alarm with the banking system. The teller went on to inform her boss, and together they both called the police.

Per TMZ, authorities arrived on the scene and detained two people in an SUV outside the bank while waiting for Coogler to emerge, when they eventually handcuffed the director. The police report noted that Coogler asked for the badge numbers of all the responding officers once everyone detained was finally released.

Coogler has been in Georgia since the summer of 2021 shooting “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to his Marvel blockbuster that earned more than $1.34 billion at the worldwide box office and remains the only Marvel film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

The production in Atlanta has had its setbacks. One pause on production was caused by an injury star Letitia Wright suffered back in August while shooting in Boston. A longer-than-expected recovery meant halting the production back in November, but the film resumed production at the beginning of January.

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