Black woman says credit union had her arrested for complaining about missing cash: lawsuit
Photo by Jake Allen on Unsplash

MidFlorida Credit Union in Lakeland is accused of having cops arrest a Black woman who was asking for assistance after a cash deposit that wasn't going through, according to a lawsuit reported by Banking Dive this week.

Linda Stephens, 70, a retired teacher who says she has PTSD, said in her lawsuit that she sought help from the credit union on three separate occasions after a $600 ATM deposit, which she needed to make her mortgage payment, failed to show up in her account.

After the third occasion, the lawsuit alleges that “the branch manager then came into the office and demanded that Ms. Stephens calm down. Ms. Stephens again pleaded with MidFlorida employees, requesting access to the money she deposited. Instead of assisting her with the transaction, the branch manager called the police on Ms. Stephens.”

The lawsuit then states the responding officers came in with hands on their weapons, saying they "thought somebody on the phone said somebody had a gun." She was then arrested, as "none of the MidFlorida employees said a word in Ms. Stephens’ defense or tried to explain the situation to the police officers." The lawsuit then says officers broke her nose while violently throwing her into the back of the car, and she was forced to spend the night "completely nude on a cement floor of a jail annex cell."

A police report describes the incident differently, according to the Banking Dive. “[Stephens] was advised by the employees that they did not want to have to trespass her, but that she needed to leave. They made multiple requests to get her to leave. The defendant raised her voice and began screaming about a gun. I advised her that we were in a bank and that she had to stop screaming about a gun. She immediately raised her voice (became louder) and began to repeatedly scream ‘gun, gun, gun …’ over and over.”

MidFlorida released a statement saying, "Police were contacted to calm an escalating situation with an irate customer because we have an obligation to provide a secure environment for all members in the branch conducting financial transactions." Stephens, however, says in her lawsuit that a regional manager met her privately at her home after the arrest, apologized, and gave her a partial credit toward her mortgage payment.