A real estate agent and client who were handcuffed and held at gunpoint during the showing of a Wyoming, Michigan, home on Sunday, Aug. 1, after a neighbor called 911 to report a break-in say they were victims of racial profiling.
Realtor Eric Brown and his client Roy Thorne were at a home with Thorne’s 15-year-old son when they noticed a growing police presence outside the house. The men say officers were pointing guns at the house, and ordered them to exit the home single file with their hands raised.
Brown, Thorne and his son were held at gunpoint until they were placed in handcuffs. After Brown showed his credentials, proving that he was a realtor showing the home, Wyoming officers apologized and let the trio go.
According to Thorne, the damage already had been done. “That officer came back and apologized again, but at the same time, the damage is done,” Thorne told WGN Chicago. “My son was a little disturbed; he hasn’t seen anything like that … he’s not going to forget this.”
Police said they were responding to a neighbor’s 911 call and have defended officers’ actions, saying proper protocol was followed.
“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 statement said. “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.”
Police also said that the home had been broken into days prior on July 24 and that the neighbor reported that the same suspect had returned to the residence.
Brown said he would have been treated differently if he were white, and expressed concern about showing homes in the future if people will see him and call police “on a whim” again.
“Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that’s pretty much how we were treated in that situation,” he said.
Capt. Timothy Pols told WOOD-TV on Monday that race didn’t play a role in the incident. “The department was responding to a call for service, there wasn’t a racial element to it,” Pols said.