Ryan Coogler faced a drawn gun, handcuffs and a grilling from police who thought he might be a bank robber with about as much grace and respect as could be expected, judging by law enforcement bodycam footage of his mistaken January arrest at a Bank of America in Georgia.
The “Black Panther” director was detained Jan. 7 after he tried to withdraw cash from his account at an Atlanta branch. Coogler used his own bank card, ID and pin number at the teller’s window, then passed a note with the amount — $12,000 — asking that it be counted elsewhere for privacy and security.
Though Coogler would later tell cops that he’s communicated with tellers via notes several times before without incident, this time the handwritten slip was mistaken for a robbery demand. Police arrived within minutes, handcuffing him right there at the window.
Coogler immediately complied, and though he appeared agitated — anyone would be — he kept his head throughout the ordeal.
“I’m trying to pull money out of my own account,” Coogler explains to officers, now outside near a squad car. “It’s a medical assistant that works at my house and prefers to be paid in cash. … Every time I make a withdrawal to pay her … if I don’t write it down on a note, the whole bank is looking at me.”
Coogler doesn’t pull the “Do you know who I am?” card, but he does gently suggest officers look him up to save themselves time — and possible embarrassment.
“I got a badge on, hanging on my hip? A work badge,” he says calmly, while still in cuffs. “It’ll tell you everything about me. And if you just run my name, you’ll understand why you should take off these cuffs. And if you cannot do it? It’s gonna be really bad for you. … C-O-O-G-L-E-R, just put it in Google. I’m really trying to keep you from having a bad day on the job, you know?”
Coogler also shows concern for his nanny, who had been waiting in the car outside.
“Is the baby nurse being detained right now?” he asks. Police answer that she is.
Once police become convinced that Coogler is not a bank robber, they take off the cuffs — and at that moment, you can virtually see the tension lift as Coogler folds his hands in prayer. He continues talking with police, explaining his perspective on what had just happened.
“I put my own card in, and I put my own pin in. She asks to see my ID. I gave it to her. She goes in the back … and then people keep coming out, ‘They’re taking care of you, they’re taking care of you.’ Next thing I hear, I hear Glocks! I hear f— Glocks being pulled out of holsters!”
Coogler later said he had since spoken with Bank of America and was satisfied with how things turned out. He can also feel pretty good about how video of the incident showed what Ryan Coogler is like under pressure.
Coogler is in Atlanta filming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to his superhero blockbuster for Marvel. “Wakanda Forever” hits theaters in November.