Darryl Fulton was ready to deposit a check meant to compensate him for 23 years of his life that had been stolen by the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, a Chase Bank branch on Chicago’s South Side refused to take it, causing more grief for a man who has endured a lifetime of it.
Fulton had spent nearly a quarter century in jail after being wrongly convicted in 1994 for the rape and murder of Antwinica Bridgeman. His conviction was revoked back in November of last year after DNA evidence pointed to another suspect.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Fulton’s attorney Kathleen Zellner stated that her client was trying to deposit a check from the state of Illinois for $169,876, which was his compensation for the time he spent in prison. She also elaborated on the claims a Chase Bank branch initially made stating that she needed to endorse Fulton’s check because her firm’s name was under his.
The victim tried a second time, but he was denied because the bank said he signed the check in the wrong place.
Darryl’s attorney says that Chase refused to deposit the check ‘because he’s a black male’.
‘I’m just trying to deposit my check,’ Fulton told the Tribune. ‘I just wanted to be treated like anyone else.’
Chase released a statement with their apologies and saying the bank should have accepted Fulton’s check but did not address any allegations of racism. They also stated that it was a mistake turning Fulton away the first time, but denied doing it twice, calling the second incident a misunderstanding.
“We did offer to deposit the check on his return visit and have reached out to him to clear up any confusion,’ the bank said, we regret the error and apologize for the inconvenience.”
Fulton’s Attorney stated that he is changing banks following the incident. She also included that most of her clients are wrongly convicted men and has had the same experience with depositing their checks before.
“I find it particularly outrageous because he was wrongfully convicted,’ Zellner said, the check is from the state of Illinois to him and I can’t attribute any other reason except they’re discriminating against him because he’s a black male.”
Fulton and his friend Nevest Coleman were both convicted in 1997 after Bridgeman’s body was found in Coleman’s basement two weeks after she went missing at her 20th birthday party in 1994.
The then-27-year-old Fulton and 25-year-old Coleman confessed to the crime but later said their confessions were coerced. Both men were sentenced to life in prison for the murder, but last year DNA evidence was linked to a serial rapist and prosecutors dropped charges.
A Cook County judge awarded them certificates of innocence in March, and each man has a civil rights lawsuit pending against the city of Chicago. Since their release, Fulton has been working at a factory near the western suburbs and Coleman was rehired as a groundskeeper with the White Sox.