9:02 AM PDT, August 6, 2021
A Black real estate agent, his client and his client’s 15-year-old son had guns said they had pointed at them and placed in handcuffs by police officers during a showing of a Michigan home Sunday afternoon after a neighbor called the cops to report a break-in. Humiliated, realtor Eric Brown and potential home buyer Roy Thorne say this would have never happened if they were white.
“I don’t get how we were treated as a threat when we’re clearly not one,” Roy Thorne told The Washington Post. “If we were white, that wouldn’t happen.”
The day began like any typical Sunday, when Roy Thorne and his son Samuel Thorne met their real estate agent around 2 p.m. that afternoon at the two-story house.
Brown, who has been working as a realtor in the Grand Rapids-area market for the last 20 years, had been helping the family search for a home for the last two months, and the group toured the home for about half an hour.
Samuel Thorne had wandered off on his own to scope out his future bedroom and returned to the group when he realized there were police officers outside, The Washington Post reported.
That’s when Roy Thorne, an Army veteran, realized there had been a swarm of around six police officers surrounding the home from an upstairs window, he told the Post.
“Roy looked outside and noticed there were officers there and were pointing guns toward the property,” Brown told WOOD.
Officers with the Wyoming Police Department then ordered the trio to exit the home in single file with their arms over their heads.
“We’re going to die today,” Brown said he thought, according to the Washington Post.
Roy Thorne said he made sure to keep his son behind him as they were walking out. “I was scared for my son,” he told the Washington Post.
When they got outside the house, they were placed in handcuffs and put in separate vehicles, the Washington Post reported.
“That was a little traumatizing,” Roy Thorne told WOOD. “Under the current climate of things, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Brown said he finally had a chance to explain and show officers his credentials after being cuffed.
The Wyoming Police Department told WOOD they released them from their handcuffs immediately after, and apologized to the men and boy.
Cops said there had been a break-in at the same home the week prior that ended in a suspect being arrested and charged with unlawful entry, and that the neighbor had told police that it was the same suspect at the home that day, Captain Tim Pols told WOOD.
He added that placing the men in handcuffs was protocol.
Brown, Thorne and his teen son, however, believe they were victims of racial profiling.
“Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that’s pretty much how we were treated in that situation,” Brown told WOOD-TV.
Pols, however, said during an interview with WOOD, “The department was responding to a call for service, there wasn’t a racial element to it.”
But 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.”
The Wyoming Police Department did not respond to Inside Edition Digital’s request for comment.