Black real estate agent, client and son touring Michigan home met with police pointing guns
The realtor was showing a home to a client when they noticed police descending on the property
A Black realtor in Wyoming, Michigan, and his client and that man’s son were detained by police Sunday on suspicion that they were breaking into a home that they were actually touring.
Police responded to the house on a report of a break-in and found Eric Brown and his client Roy Thorne, who are now speaking out about being racially profiled.
Brown was showing a home on Sharon Avenue SW to Thorne and his son when they noticed police descending upon the property.
“Roy looked outside and noticed there were officers there and were pointing guns toward the property,” Brown told Wood.
After Thorne announced themselves to officers through an upstairs window, police ordered them to exit the home with their hands in the air. Brown, Thorne, and Thorne’s 15-year-old son were put in handcuffs.
“They keep their guns drawn on us until all of us were in cuffs,” Thorne said. “So, that was a little traumatizing I guess because under the current climate of things, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Once Brown explained that he is a real estate agent, even showing his credentials, the officers immediately removed the handcuffs.
“That officer came back and apologized again, but at the same time, the damage is done,” Thorne said. “My son was a little disturbed, he hasn’t seen anything like that … he’s not going to forget this.”
Capt. Timothy Pols of the Wyoming police said officers followed protocol by placing the individuals in handcuffs
“Officers were aware that a previous burglary had occurred at this same address on July 24 and that a suspect was arrested and charged for unlawful entry during that incident,” Pols said in a statement. “The caller indicated that the previously arrested suspect had returned and again entered the house.”
Brown and Thorne believe if they were white men, the officers would have had a different reaction.
“The level of the response and the aggressiveness of the response was definitely a take back, it really threw me back,” Brown said.
“A SWAT team is what it felt like,” he told The Washington Post.
Pols claimed “there wasn’t a racial element to it.”
Below is the full statement from the Wyoming Police Department:
On August 1, our officers responded to a 911 call from a neighbor reporting that a house was being broken into. Officers were aware that a previous burglary had occurred at this same address on July 24 and that a suspect was arrested and charged for unlawful entry during that incident. The caller indicated that the previously arrested suspect had returned and again entered the house. When the officers arrived, there were people inside of the residence in question. Officers asked the individuals to come out of the house and placed them in handcuffs per department protocol. After listening to the individuals’ explanation for why they were in the house, officers immediately removed the handcuffs. The Wyoming Department of Public Safety takes emergency calls such as this seriously and officers rely on their training and department policy in their response.
“I just felt defeated,” Thorne told The Post. “That’s something you never want your kid to see.”
“I was scared,” he said. “I was scared for my son.”
Brown said the one thought that raced through his mind during the encounter with police was: “We’re going to die today.”
The incident lasted about 30 minutes, but Thorne and Brown said the impact will last a lifetime.
“I feel pretty anxious, or nervous or maybe even a little bit scared about what do I do to protect myself if I’m going to show a home and the authorities just get called on a whim like that,” said Brown. “Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that’s pretty much how we were treated in that situation.”
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