Police in western Michigan have released bodycam footage of the moment officers handcuffed a real estate agent, his client and the man’s 15-year-old after a neighbor wrongly reported that the three black men were breaking into a home.
Realtor Eric Brown was showing a house on Sharon Avenue in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming to his army-veteran client Roy Thorne, 45, and Thorne’s son, Samuel, when they were startled by police officers yelling at them to come outside of the house with their hands up.
The video starts with the 911 call that prompted the police response. A woman can be heard telling the 911 operator that a black man had been arrested the week before after he broke into the home.
Realtor Eric Brown was showing a house on Sharon Avenue to his army-veteran client Roy Thorne, 45, and Thorne’s son, Samuel. A showing had been scheduled online with the owner’s knowledge
They were startled by Wyoming police officers yelling at them to come out of the property with their hands on the air
Real estate agent Eric Brown (pictured) has said the incident has left a lasting impact that will affect the way he does his job
At the time, police had also towed his black Mercedes, which had been parked in front of the house. The woman in the call appears to confuse Brown with the individual who had previously been arrested.
‘Last week Saturday the police came out … there was a young black man that was squatting in a home that’s for sale, and I know they came and took him away and towed his car away. Well, he’s back there again,’ she tells to the operator.
The neighbor thought Brown’s Hyundai Genesis was the Mercedes from the week before. The owners of the house Brown was showing to Thorne had asked her to keep an eye on it after the break-in, she told cops.
When police arrived, they found the front door open and called for the men to come outside with their hands raised.
One of the officers had his weapon out and pointed it at Thorne as he left the home in response to police commands. Thorne and his son follow behind.
Brown is momentarily put inside the police car as an officer tells him, ‘You are now under arrest.’
He tells the officer he is a realtor for Keller Williams and is then removed from the car.
An officer reaches for Brown’s wallet inside his back pocket.
‘You have to carry that by law, that’s my license,’ Brown says.
He is taken by an officer to the entrance of the house and questioned on how he gained access inside.
Brown explains he has an app on his phone that gives him access to a lockbox with a house key. An officer then places the phone in front of Brown’s face so it can be unlocked with his facial features and his real estate credentials appear in the screen.
‘Yeah, he’s a realtor,’ says another police officer, ‘That’s good news. Sweet.’
The footage also shows police put Thorne in the backseat of a squad car with the door open after handcuffing him.
‘Definitely not buying this place,’ Thorne says on the video, after explaining that he was visiting the home with his real estate agent.
After they seem to laugh the incident off, the detaining officer says, ‘Sorry for the inconvenience’ to Brown, who goes on to explain the appointment to show the house to Thorne had been scheduled online, with the owner’s knowledge.
‘You gotta do what you gotta do,’ says an uncuffed Brown after the officer’s apology.
The cop who uncuffed Brown then informs the other five officers of the circumstances as Thorne and his son are also freed.
After the misunderstanding has been cleared up, two officers shake the men’s hand and go back to the police cars.
‘Thank you gentlemen, sorry for the confusion,’ an officer says, ‘Take care.’
‘Take care,’ reply Brown and Thorne to the officers.
A 911 call reporting a break-in prompted the officers to handcuff the three men. On July 24, another Black man with a similar car to the real estate agent’s vehicle was arrested after he went into the house without permission
The 911 caller confused Brown’s Hyundai Genesis with the Mercedes owned by the man who had been arrested the week before
Officers gave the men handshakes and they seemed to laugh the incident off, but Brown and Thorne said in a recent interview they believe the ordeal was racially motivated. Thorne said it was a very traumatizing experience for him and his son
‘Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that´s pretty much how we were treated in that situation,’ said Brown about the incident, while Thorne said that hi son ‘was a little disturbed, he hasn´t seen anything like that…he’s not going to forget this’
Afterwards, however, Brown and Thorne believed the incident had been racially motivated and told WOOD-TV that the police response Aug. 1, including two out of five officers who drew their guns, felt aggressive and ‘threw me back.’
‘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. ‘Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that´s pretty much how we were treated in that situation.’
The Wyoming Police Department defended the officers´ actions and said they followed protocol for responding to a reported home invasion. The department said in a statement that Chief Kimberly Koster reached out to the three offering to meet with them and any other family members.
Thorne, Brown’s client, called the experience in the Grand Rapids suburb ‘traumatizing’ for him and his son.
Thorne said that officer apologized, ‘but at the same time, the damage is done.’
‘My son was a little disturbed, he hasn´t seen anything like that…he’s not going to forget this,’ he said.
Another black man with a similar-colored car to the real estate agent’s vehicle was arrested after he went into the house without permission July 24, police said. That person also told police that he was interested in purchasing the house but was not with a real estate agent and didn´t have the homeowner´s permission to go inside.
A neighbor saw Brown’s car parked in front of the house on Aug. 1 and called police, wrongly reporting that the intruder had returned, the statement said. Brown’s car is the same color as that first person’s but a different make and model.
‘Somebody dropped the ball somewhere,’ one of the officers can be heard saying to another after Brown and Thorne explained why they were at the house.