Police in western Michigan have released bodycam footage of officers handcuffing a real estate agent, his client, and the man’s 15-year-old son after a neighbor falsely reported the three black men breaking into a house.
Realtor Eric Brown was showing army veteran Roy Thorne, 45, and Thorne’s son, Samuel, a house on Sharon Avenue in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming when they were startled by police officers yelling at them to come outside with their hands up. The 911 call that prompted the police response is shown at the beginning of the video. A woman is heard telling the 911 operator that a black man was arrested the week before for breaking into the house.
Police had also towed his black Mercedes, which had been parked in front of the house, at the time. The woman on the phone appears to be confused about Brown and the person who had previously been arrested.
The neighbor mistook Brown’s Hyundai Genesis for the Mercedes from the previous week. Brown told cops that the owners of the house she was showing Thorne had asked her to keep an eye on it after the break-in. When police arrived, they discovered the front door open and summoned the men outside with their hands raised.
As Thorne left the house in response to police commands, one of the officers pulled out his weapon and pointed it at him. Thorne and his son are not far behind.
Brown is placed briefly inside the police car as an officer informs him, ‘You are now under arrest.’ He tells the officer he is a Keller Williams realtor and is then removed from the car.
An officer reaches into Brown’s back pocket for his wallet.
‘You’re required by law to carry that, that’s my license,’ Brown says. An officer takes him to the front door of the house and questions him about how he got inside. Brown explains that he has an app on his phone that allows him to access a lockbox containing a house key. An officer then holds the phone up to Brown’s face, allowing it to be unlocked using his facial features, and his real estate credentials appear on the screen. The video also shows police handcuffing Thorne and placing him in the backseat of a squad car with the door open.
After they appear to laugh it off, the detaining officer apologizes to Brown, explaining that the appointment to show the house to Thorne had been scheduled online, with the owner’s knowledge. The officer who uncuffs Brown then informs the other five officers of the situation, while Thorne and his son are also released.
After the misunderstanding is resolved, two officers shake the men’s hands and return to their police cars.
Brown and Thorne, on the other hand, believed the incident was racially motivated and told WOOD-TV that the police response on Aug. 1, including two out of five officers who drew their guns, felt aggressive and ‘threw me back.’
The Wyoming Police Department defended the officers’ actions, saying they were in accordance with protocol for responding to a reported home invasion. According to the department, Chief Kimberly Koster reached out to the three, offering to meet with them and any other family members.
Thorne, Brown’s client, described his and his son’s experience in the Grand Rapids suburb as “traumatizing.”
Thorne stated that the officer apologized, ‘but the damage has already been done.’
According to police, another black man in a similar-colored car to the real estate agent’s vehicle was arrested on July 24 after breaking into the house without permission. That person also told police that he was interested in buying the house but was not accompanied by a real estate agent and did not have permission from the homeowner to enter.
On Aug. 1, a neighbor noticed Brown’s car parked in front of the house and called police, incorrectly reporting that the intruder had returned, according to the statement. Brown’s vehicle is the same color as the first person’s, but it is a different make and model.