After spending 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Darryl Fulton went to Chase Bank to deposit his restitution check of more than $160,000 from the state of Illinois. But the bank turned him away twice, his lawyer said.
On two occasions, Fulton tried to deposit the check and was told he could not. His lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, questioned whether racism was a factor.
Zellner said she was told by the bank that she would have to endorse the check, even though Fulton’s name was printed on it as the payee, according to the Chicago Tribune. The bank claimed that she would have to endorse it because her law firm’s name was under Fulton’s.
The second time Fulton attempted to deposit the check, Zellner had to get on the phone with the bank because it said the check would have to be deposited into her account, not his.
Chase for its part, insists that it did not refuse to deposit the check the second time Fulton presented it, calling it a “misunderstanding.”
“We did offer to deposit the check on his return visit and have reached out to him to clear up any confusion. We regret the error and apologize for the inconvenience,” Chase Bank told the Tribune.
Fulton has decided to use another bank after Chase would not let him deposit a check meant to compensate him for two decades of imprisonment.
He was one of two men who were convicted of a 1994 rape and murder. But in 2017, DNA evidence allowed a judge to vacate their convictions. Fulton and the other man, Nevest Coleman, were both serving life sentences. This DNA evidence, which hadn’t been tested in the 1990s, established that the semen stains on the victim’s clothing matched up with a man who was convicted of three other rapes.
And there have been other recent news report of Black people facing discrimination by banks. In 2016, Trish Doolan went to Key Bank to deposit her paycheck. Then the bank called her and asked her to come back to the bank to question her.
Doolin told BuzzFeed News at the time, “He asked my profession, and then asked why the company’s headquarters were in Philadelphia.” Key Bank then tried to reach her employer but was unable to, so they told Doolin that her paycheck could not be deposited for up to nine days. Following social media attention on the incident, the bank apologized to Doolin.
In 2015, a Black teenager, Jason Goolsby, said he was was standing in front of the ATM trying to decide whether to withdraw money when police approached. A white woman called 911 to report suspicious youths hanging out near the bank because the young men made her feel “uncomfortable.”
The 911 transcript showed that the woman said, “we just left but we felt like if we had taken money out we might’ve gotten robbed.” Goolsby was not arrested, but he was pursued by police who briefly detained him.