Woman, 69, Jailed for Complaining About $600 Deposit That Never Hit Account

by Xara Aziz
Voiced by Amazon Polly

It all began when a woman, who was 69 at the time, had deposited $600 at an Orlando MidFlorida Credit Union ATM. The money never hit her account. The result would be her getting arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Linda Stephens told the Orlando Sentinel that she had deposited the money to put toward her mortgage payment, but the money never appeared on her account balance. After visiting the branch “several times” to complain, the woman – with no criminal record – was taken into custody and charged with a misdemeanor.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump got hold of the case and decided to represent Stephens. Alongside Stephens and her husband Rufus, the famed lawyer announced Thursday that she is taking legal action against the credit union on accusations that they arrested her for “banking while Black.” The complaint has been filed in Orange County, Florida but they seek to have the suit moved to federal court.

“We don’t think this would have happened to everybody’s grandmother,” Crump said. “This implicit bias has terrible consequences for our people.”

A police affidavit says that Stephens was arrested because she “became irate and started yelling and arguing with employees” when she came in to inquire about her missing funds.

But the plaintiff refutes those claims. She said that each time she visited the branch to inquire about the status of her deposit, she was repeatedly told to return several times. During her final visit to the branch, she was told that a technician was fixing the ATM.

Officers were called to the scene where she was arrested and taken to Polk County Jail where she stayed overnight. She was initially charged with disorderly conduct but the charges were later dropped.

“I was traumatized, I was humiliated, all because I asked for my money from a bank I’ve had for some 47-and-a-half years,” said Stephens, a former educator who was jailed in the same county where she taught. “It’s more than I can deal with.”

Crump is also considering suing the police who he accused of fracturing her nose while being taken into custody. Authorities have denied the allegations stating that “there was no use of force” and that Stephens “made no complaint of injury,” according to the affidavit.

“We believe the proximate cause of all the injustice suffered by Linda Stephens was because of MidFlorida Credit Union accusing her of being belligerent because she wanted her money,” Crump said.

MidFlorida Credit Union has since apologized, offered Stephens a $300 gift card and offered to pay her mortgage for a month.

Meanwhile, Stephens has been treated for post-traumatic stress.

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