A Conyers man with a cell phone on a clip was taken into custody by police when a bank employee accused him of attempting to rob the bank on Feb. 19.
The accused man, Samuel Moore III, 33, said he hasn't been able to sleep since the day he was placed into handcuffs and taken to the police station, and is looking into getting a lawyer.
Police received a call about a silent alarm around 11:45 a.m. that an attempted bank robbery had just occurred at the West Avenue branch of Bank of America.
Moore, a Rockdale County High School alum, said he had gone into the branch that day to make a withdrawal from his account. He said he unzipped his jacket as he went into the bank and put his phone on his clip. He said he was wearing jeans, a jacket, and a cloth head cap that day.
"One of the ladies kept saying they'll be with me in a minute," he said. When he left from the back entrance after making his transaction, he tried to pull out of the parking lot and noticed the car ahead of him was stopped. He drove around it and saw police officers.
He rolled down his window and asked the officer what was the matter, and the officer told him someone had just tried to rob the bank and to stay put.
"So I stayed right there and cut my truck (engine) off." Moore said he waited about three to five minutes before he heard a woman yelling, "That's him, that's him."
"I'm looking around and I didn't know she was talking about me, but apparently she was," he said. "The police department came at me and was asking me for a gun. I told them I didn't have one." Officers put Moore into handcuffs and put him in the back of a patrol car.
According to the Conyers Police Department incident report, the employee said she had seen Moore "lift his sweatshirt and grab the handle of a firearm which she described as a black Glock."
Officers searched the premises, including Moore's car, the bushes, trash cans, planters and bank grounds but could not find a firearm.
He was taken to the station while officers reviewed security camera video footage.
"They said they really couldn't tell if I had a gun or not. So they released me," said Moore.
Public Safety Director and acting CPD Chief Gene Wilson said the handcuffing was performed incorrectly - it had reportedly pinched the skin and left bruises - and would be written up as a training issue, but that the response and investigation had been carried out correctly.
"This was a situation where the person who became alarmed felt they were justified and had seen things that were suspicious and dangerous," he said. "What had been relayed to us was not what had occurred."
He said the investigator on the case personally apologized to Moore and his father after he was released.
Moore said the investigators had not apologized and that no one from the police department or bank had contacted him or his father after the incident.
An employee at the bank branch said she didn't know anything about the incident and referred questions to the media relations department, which responded that the safety and security of customers and associates is a top priority at Bank of America and that "Due to customer and associate privacy and confidentiality, we cannot discuss specific incidents."
Several bank robberies have occurred in the Conyers area within the last seven months, including at other Bank of America branches in the area.
Moore's father, Samuel Moore II, said he was upset and was looking into getting a lawyer.
"My son's never had any dealing with law enforcement ever," he said. "He has no record whatever. None of my children have records. We're trying to be decent citizens. Something like this really offends you. It upset my whole family. And I have a big family. We were raised in Rockdale County. The only time I've been away from Rockdale is during my time in the Navy."
Meanwhile, Sam Moore III said he's still struggling to process what happened. "I'm truly just still confused and really don't understand why me," he said, pausing as he struggled to find the words. "Any false moves, anything could have happened in a matter of seconds. It's just very traumatic right now. I'm still in shock."