Eric Harding has no plans to retire his fully masked hooded black sweatshirt with printed skeletal bones.
Even after it made him look like a bank robber Wednesday morning, landed him in the back of a squad car, earned him a $96 disorderly conduct citation and propelled him to file a grievance that will pit him against the La Crosse Police Department.
“It’s probably one of the most asinine things I’ve heard in my life,” he said.
Harding, 32, of La Crosse entered the north door of Governmental Employees Credit Union at 225 La Crosse St. about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to withdraw $600 in rent money from his account, he said.
Another member in the bank drive-through assumed the man wearing the skeleton sweatshirt with a hood covering his face and acting irregular planned a bank heist and called police, said GECU president and CEO Sue Prinsen.
“He was completely covered. It looked like Halloween,” she said. “You can’t come into a financial (institution) looking like that.”
Harding said he unzipped the hood inside the bank, withdrew the cash and sped off on his bike toward Riverfest. The concerned member who called police told bank employees he reported a robbery.
Minutes later, a squad car stopped Harding near Second and State streets and officers ordered him to the ground, he said.
“What did I do?” Harding said he screamed back.
“It’s none of your business,” he said police told him.
It wasn’t until Harding was handcuffed in the back of a squad car that officers told him he was a suspect in what they believed to be a bank robbery, he said. They called him “uncooperative” and “belligerent,” according to reports.
Police released Harding when the confusion cleared. Furious over the incident, Harding immediately biked to the police station to complain.
“The way I was treated was crap,” he said.
A lieutenant tried to explain that police had to act quickly when they heard of a possible robbery, Harding said. He asked for the paperwork to file a complaint when officers handed him a citation for disorderly conduct.
Harding caused a disturbance at the credit union by rushing into the building while masked, police said in justifying the ticket.
He plans to contest the citation during his appearance Aug. 5 in La Crosse Municipal Court and file the grievance against officers today.