A Black realtor in Michigan who was handcuffed along with his client and client’s teenage son, is speaking out after police said race “played no role” in officers’ actions.
Earlier this month, Eric Brown was touring a home with his client Roy Thorne and Thorne’s 15-year-old son when they noticed a growing police presence outside the home.
A neighbor had called 9-1-1 reporting a break-in at the vacant home.
The two men and teen were all handcuffed and had guns drawn on them in an incident they say would not have been as aggressive if they were white.
“After a thorough internal review of the actions of each of our public safety officers who responded to this incident, we have concluded race played no role in our officers’ treatment of the individuals.”
“It feels difficult to justify that type of –– what I felt –– a tactical type response,” Brown said. “It was a strategy there and they were surrounding the home, without our knowledge. We weren’t made aware of their presence,” he added, noting that the home had been on the market for a while and had been shown on numerous occasions.
Thorne said that at the moment, he was worried about how the situation would end and noticed two officers with their guns drawn “signaling to one another to surround the house.”
“That’s when I really got paranoid, because I knew once they surrounded the home, they were preparing for a standoff,” he said. “My instincts told me we need to get out of here. We need to get to where they can see we’re not a threat,” he added.
To the neighbor who made the report, Thorne said they should report crimes, not people.
“We occupy the same space. We do the same things. We go to the same places. If you see a crime, report a crime. But if you see people, Black people … don’t report people doing normal things,” the father said.
Brown said he’s open to having a meeting with the police chief about the incident in the future.