Michigan police handcuff Black real estate agent, prospective buyer at home showing

A Black real estate agent and a prospective home buyer in Michigan said they were racially profiled when local police officers suspected them of intrusion and put them in handcuffs during a home showing. 

The real estate agent, Eric Brown, told local NBC affiliate WOOD-TV that he was giving a tour of a home in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming to Roy Thorne and Thorne’s 15-year-old son Sunday. 

Brown, an agent with Grand Rapids Real Estate, said he arrived at the two-story home in the overwhelmingly white neighborhood that Sunday afternoon and, as he does for all houses he shows, opened a lockbox through an app on his phone that held a key he could use.

After Thorne and his son arrived, Brown began the home showing, telling WOOD-TV that during the tour, Thorne eventually “looked outside and noticed there were officers there and were pointing guns toward the property.” 

Thorne, an Army veteran who is also Black, explained that he told his son to “get out of the line of fire” and opened a window to address police officers. 

Thorne said that police eventually instructed the three of them to exit the home in a single-file line with their hands above their heads. 

Once they got outside, the men said that the police officers put all three of them in handcuffs. 

“They keep their guns drawn on us until all of us were in cuffs,” Thorne told the local news outlet. “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.”

Brown, who said he counted seven white police officers at the scene, noted that he was eventually able to explain the situation and show officers his real estate credentials, after which the handcuffs were removed. 

The Wyoming Police Department told the local news outlet that officers had been responding to a 911 call from a neighbor reporting a break-in, with Capt. Timothy Pols saying that there was a previous burglary on July 24 at the same address. 

“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,” he said. 

The department later said in a statement that a 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,” the statement reads, adding that the individuals were placed in handcuffs under “department protocol.”

“After listening to the individuals’ explanation for why they were in the house, officers immediately removed the handcuffs,” the department said, adding that it “takes emergency calls such as this seriously and officers rely on their training and department policy in their response.”

The Hill has reached out to the police department for additional information. 

Tags Grand Rapids Michigan NBC police brutality police departments Racial profiling racism allegations Real estate

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