Wyoming, Michigan

Black Michigan Realtor Cuffed by Police While Showing House Because Neighbors Suspected He Had Broken In

A Black real estate agent in Wyoming, Michigan experienced a case of racial profiling at its worst.

Jacqueline Francis of NBC affiliate WOOD-TV has reported that realtor Eric Brown and his client Roy Thorne, who is also Black, “were put in handcuffs during a showing Sunday [August 1] after armed Wyoming police officers responded to the house on a report of a break-in.”

According to Francis, the officers released the men as soon as they realized the mistake they had made. But now, the two men want their story heard, believing they were racially profiled and hoping they might prevent the same thing from happening to other innocent people of color.

“Brown said he was taking Thorne and his son through the home on Sharon Avenue SW when he noticed a growing police presence outside,” Francis said.

In an interview with WOOD-TV, Brown recalled that Thorne had called out to police through an upstairs window and asked them what the problem was. A number of officers had gathered on the property and had their guns drawn, pointing at the house.

The police ordered the men to slowly walk out of the building in a single-file line with their hands up. All three of them, including Thorne’s 15-year-old son, were then immediately placed in handcuffs.

“They kept their guns drawn on us until all of us were in cuffs,” Thorne recalled. “So, that was a little traumatizing, I guess, because, under the current climate of things, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

After he’d been cuffed, Brown was given a chance to explain the situation, showing the police his real estate credentials and proving that he had simply been trying to show the property and wasn’t breaking into it.

Recognizing their mistake, the police officers quickly expressed regret for their actions and released all three men.

“That officer came back and apologized again, but at the same time, 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.”

In a statement, Capt. Timothy Pols of the Wyoming Police Department said that the officers were simply responding to a neighbor’s 911 call.

“Officers were aware that a previous burglary had occurred at this same address on July 24 and that a suspect was arrested and charged for unlawful entry during that incident,” Pols told reporters. “The caller indicated that the previously arrested suspect had returned and again entered the house.”

Still, Brown and Thorne believe race played a role in how they were treated — and said they don’t think the same thing would have happened had they been white.

“The level of the response and the aggressiveness of the response was definitely a take-back,” Brown said. “It really 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,” he added. “Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that’s pretty much how we were treated in that situation.”


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


Latest News

5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: October 6

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. 1. The Dollar Divide…

WOCA 2022 Research: How to Improve Representation of Women of Color in the Workplace 

Capital One and DiversityInc shared the results of their collaborative research report on women of color in the workplace at the 2022 annual Women of Color and Their Allies event held in Louisville on Sept. 21 in conjunction with Humana. Dr. Chris Parker, Head of Research & Data, DiversityInc, confirmed…

WOCA 2022: Executive Leaders Share Stories of Allyship for Women of Color

One of the best indicators of an organization’s success around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is leadership accountability for DEI. At our 2022 Women of Color and Their Allies event, DiversityInc’s Head of Strategic Partnerships, Anita Ricketts, was joined on stage by leaders who are holding themselves and their contemporaries…

The Dollar Divide

Too Poor to Die: The Rising Cost of Funerals 

Death is expensive.  For more than two decades, I have extensively written and reported about money-related content and even I was surprised at the cost of my mother’s funeral.  The median cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial is approximately $7,848. That doesn’t include the cost of the…