A Georgia doctor is speaking out after suffering what he believes was an incident of racial profiling.
Anthony Onyegbula, who spends much of his time treating cancer patients in the metro Atlanta suburb of Henry County, said all he wanted to do was open up a new bank account. Instead, he found himself under suspicion of being a criminal after a bank worker dialed police on him.
“They said I was suspicious, I was wearing a hat, and they thought I wanted to rob the bank, and I was like, ‘What?’” Onyegbula told local station WSB-TV. “Until it happens to you, you never know what it feels like.”
The incident unfolded Thursday at the United Community Bank on Eagles Landing Parkway in Stockbridge, where Onyegbula was waiting to open an account with his wife. As he spoke outside on the phone with her, locked out of the building, a worker inside was on the phone with police.
WSB-TV obtained a copy of the 911 audio, in which the employee described what she thought was peculiar behavior exhibited by the customer.
“He went to the front door and he’s been on his phone, and, I, um, called from my phone to tell the employees to lock the front door,” she tells the dispatcher. “He’s been on his phone out front, and we have no cars out in the parking lot.”
“He’s a walker, so I feel like he’s up to no good,” the employee added.
By that time, Onyegbula and his wife had taken their business to another nearby bank, the station reported. That’s when they were approached by police and realized the authorities had been called for them.
“Here come the same police, came inside the bank, now it’s two of them, and they said they told the manager to clear the room, because they wanted to talk to us,” Onyegbula recalled.
After a few questions, the cops left without filing any charges.
The local doctor believes the call was racially motivated, adding that the incident left him feeling upset, confused and utterly embarrassed. He suggested that the bank’s employees undergo sensitivity training.
“You cannot judge someone from the outside,” Onyegbula told WSB-TV.
United Community Bank addressed the incident in a statement last week, but said it does not comment publicly on the “details of any customer or potential customer transactions.”
“However, providing excellent customer service is our top priority and we are disappointed that we didn’t deliver that to Drs. Onyegbula and Tedga in this case,” the statement continued. “This afternoon we were able to speak directly with Drs. Onyegbula and Tedga to personally apologize for the misunderstanding. We are glad for the opportunity to connect and improve, and hope to have an opportunity to earn their business in the future.”
Watch more in the video below.