Black actual property agent and buyer handcuffed whereas viewing home
The Sharon Avenue home in Wyoming, Michigan should be another option for Eric Brown, a real estate agent, to show off to his client.
Instead, visiting the property became one of the most traumatic experiences for Mr Brown and his client Roy Thorne, who are black, after police met outside the house during the August 1st screening, they said in interviews on Sunday.
Mr. Brown and Mr. Thorne looked around upstairs when Mr. Thorne’s 15-year-old son, Samuel Thorne, sprinted up to them from the first floor and said there were “a lot of cops outside,” said Mr. Brown, 46.
Then Mr. Thorne, 45, looked out the window and saw a policeman with a gun drawn and hiding behind a tree, Mr. Brown said. Mr. Thorne called to the officer who pointed a gun at him, both men said.
The officer instructed the two men and the teen to come down and out the door with their hands up, Mr. Brown said.
“I said to myself, ‘If they shoot me first, they’ll stop there and not hit my son,'” said Mr. Thorne, an Army veteran. “At that moment, I wasn’t afraid of dying. I was just afraid it would hurt. “
Police officers handcuffed Mr. Thorne, Mr. Brown, and their son, according to a statement from the Department of Public Safety in Wyoming, Michigan. The city, which is near Grand Rapids, has a population of around 75,000 people, nearly three-quarters of whom are white according to 2019 census data. Less than 8 percent of the population are black.
Mr. Brown said he told officers they could reach into his pocket and take out his real estate license. He stated that he got inside because real estate agents got access to the keys.
Officials let the real estate agent and his clients go after discovering no one had broken into the home, the statement said. About 20 minutes earlier, a neighbor had called the police to report that someone had entered the house, the police said.
A week earlier, someone was arrested after breaking into the house, the statement said. The neighbor thought Mr. Brown’s car, a black Hyundai Genesis, looked like a black Mercedes-Benz sedan parked in the driveway at the time of the previous arrest, according to a recording of the police call.
The officers told Mr. Brown about the vehicles, and according to WOOD-TV’s body camera footage, he replied, “Yes, and my car definitely looks like a Mercedes.”
“I was both true and sarcastic,” said Mr. Brown on Sunday.
“You have a better day,” one of the crime scene officials told the real estate agent and his clients, according to the footage. “Sorry for the confusion.”
Kyle Gummere, the property agent who works for the home’s owners, said he didn’t think the neighbor called the police about the race of those in the home.
That assessment, he said, is based on a conversation he had with the owners of the house, who told Mr Gummere that a neighbor only called the police after seeing a black vehicle parked in front of the house – not after seeing Mr Brown had seen. Mr. Thorne and his son.
“I don’t think this is racially motivated at all,” said Mr Gummere, adding that he shared this view with Mr Brown, who disagreed.
“Understand that the neighbors are elderly,” he added. “You probably won’t know the difference between the models.”
Mr Gummere declined to give the name of the owner and said he did not know the name of the neighbor who called the police.
Mr Brown said what happened was a clear case of racial profiling.
“If we went out there and I was a white lady and her white client and daughter, they would have dropped those guns in no time,” he said.
But the city’s Department of Public Security denied the idea after a “thorough internal review”.
“Race did not play a role in the way our officers treated people,” the department’s statement said. “While it is unfortunate that innocent people were handcuffed, our officers reacted reasonably and according to the department’s guidelines based on the information available to them at the time.”
Mr. Brown and Mr. Thorne have hired a lawyer to represent them and say they will consider legal action “if the lawsuit against the city makes some changes.”
The house, which was priced at $ 239,900, seemed like an attractive option to its client, Mr. Brown said, since it was in a quiet area and sold for a good price. Mr. Thorne said he was no longer considering the house.
He grew up in Wyoming, Michigan, but “I am 100 percent guaranteed not to buy a home in this city,” he said. He said he and his son would continue to look elsewhere.
“I still have to find a house,” he says. “I just know where not to look.”