A man and his 12-year-old granddaughter were left in handcuffs in Vancouver after trying to open a bank account at BMO. The incident took place on December 20, 2019. What was supposed to be a regular appointment turned out to be a nightmare for the Indigenous grandfather arrested at BMO and he is now seeking legal action. 

According to CBC News, Maxwell Johnson had an appointment at the Bank of Montreal on Burrard Street in Vancouver. 

He has reportedly been a customer since 2014 and wanted to open an account for his 12-yer-old granddaughter so he could transfer money to her while she travelled with her basketball team.

However, the employee at BMO questioned the ID that Johnson and his granddaughter presented at the appointment.

Johnson told CBC that the employee said the numbers didn’t match what she had on her computer. 

Johnson, 56, and his 12-year-old granddaughter were using their government-issued Indian Status cards, his birth certificate, and her medical card at the time.

After the employee became suspicious, she took all the cards and went upstairs with them. 

Johnson believes that the employee was suspicious about why he had $30,000 in his account, he told CBC.

This amount of money was given to every member of the Heiltsuk Nation in December as part of an Aboriginal rights settlement package.

In his retelling of the incident, Johnson stated that the two of them were asked to come upstairs where they then saw a police officer walking towards them. 

An officer then reportedly grabbed both Johnson and his granddaughter and handcuffed them. They were taken to the police vehicle where they were detained and had their rights read. 

Heartbroken, Johnson watched his granddaughter crying while in handcuffs. 

Johnson believes that he was racially profiled at BMO that day. 

The Vancouver Police Department has said to CBC that there were claims from BMO that he and his granddaughter were committing possible fraud. 

No criminal activity was determined and there were no fraudulent transactions found by the police. Narcity has reached out to both BMO and VPD for comment. We will update the story once we hear back.

Both were released within the hour and the officers apologized to Johnson, reports CBC. BMO provided the following comment to the news outlet:

“Although there were some mitigating circumstances, they do not excuse the way in which we handled the situation. We deeply regret this happened and have apologized to our customer.”

According to CBC News, the BMO representative said “mitigating circumstances” would include not having the proper ID. 

Johnson has told CBC News that he suffers from a panic disorder and since the incident, he has experienced severe anxiety as well as a fear of police and banks. 

He plans on taking this to court to “make this right.”

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