A realtor, his client and his 15-year-old son were mistakenly handcuffed during a showing in West Michigan after a neighbor falsely reported the men, who were black, were breaking into the home.
Realtor Eric Brown told local station WOOD-TV he was walking his client Roy Thorne and his son Samuel around a home in the suburb of Wyoming outside of Grand Rapids, when he noticed a police presence growing outside.
“Roy looked outside and noticed there were officers there and were pointing guns toward the property,” Brown said according to WOOD-TV. Two out of the five responding officers had their weapons drawn, The Associated Press reported.
Brown said they tried to clarify what they were doing at the house, but police still instructed them to exit the home in a single file line with their hands in the air.
Bodycam footage released by the department shows one officer pointing his weapon at Thorne as he exited the home.
“They keep their guns drawn on us until all of us were in cuffs,” Thorne said, according to WOOD-TV. “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.”
All three men were put in handcuffs, and both Roy and Samuel were briefly put in the back of squad cars. (RELATED: Video Shows Black Man’s Wrongful Arrest In Front Of Family)
“The level of the response and the aggressiveness of the response was definitely a take back, it really threw me back,” Brown said, per WOOD-TV.
Police uncuffed the men as soon as Brown used his cellphone to show the cops he had an appointment to bring Thorne inside and had the access codes to the house.
Officers responded to the scene knowing a break-in occurred at the same address July 24 where a different black man told police he was interested in purchasing the house, according to The Associated Press.
That suspect was arrested and charged for unlawful entry, according to a statement from the Wyoming Police Department. A neighbor feared that Brown was the prior suspect returning and called the police.
“The caller indicated that the previously arrested suspect had returned and again entered the house,” the statement read.
Brown’s car and the suspect’s are reportedly the same color, but a different make and model, according to The Associated Press. The suspect also had no access codes, or real estate agent with him to corroborate his story.
Realtor Eric Brown and his client Roy Thorne were handcuffed & had guns drawn on them for NO reason! Police could have prematurely ended their lives AND Thorne’s 15yo son’s life too! This unnecessary & harmful police reporting MUST STOP! pic.twitter.com/rOesdH8i9k
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 9, 2021
Despite the knowledge of the prior break-in, the men feel as though they have been racially profiled by the police due to their aggression. The cop who aimed his gun at Thorne has apologized, but Thorne says “the damage is done.”
“My son was a little disturbed,” Thorne said. “He hasn’t seen anything like that … he’s not going to forget this.”
Brown was also shaken by the event.
“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,” Brown said according to WOOD-TV. “Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that’s pretty much how we were treated in that situation.”
The Wyoming Police Department is confident their officer’s actions were justified and said they followed protocol for responding to a reported home invasion, according to The Associated Press.
“The department was responding to a call for service,” Capt. Thomas Pols said when asked about profiling by WOOD-TV. “There wasn’t a racial element to it.”
Police Chief Kimberly Koster has reached out to Brown and offered to meet with the three men and their families to talk about the incident. While a time has not been set, Brown is all for it provided their own counsel and Samuel are also present for the conversation, according to CNN.
“Clearly, we want some reform and some change here,” he said.