Two months ago, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported that a Black real estate agent and his clients were forced to exit a home during a home showing.
Now, the men are taking action. A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Wyoming police department and the city, according to CNN.
Eric D. Brown, a West Michigan REALTOR, was showing a home to his client, Roy Thorne, and his client’s 15-year-old son Samuel. During the tour, the men noticed that police cars were surrounding the home. Brown, his client, and the teenage boy exited the home. Instead of having the opportunity to explain themselves, they were met with several guns pointed in their direction. The men were immediately placed in handcuffs and stripped of their rights. They were thrust into the police vehicle and silenced. It wasn’t until Brown had a chance to prove his real estate credentials that the men were set free.
The incident occurred on August 1 outside a Michigan home located on Sharon Avenue SW in Wyoming, Michigan.
Michigan Police Department Stands by Officers
The Michigan police department supported the officers who detained Brown, Thorne, and the teenage boy. According to the department, the police officers were responding to a call from a neighbor. A few weeks before the incident, a man had broken into the home and the 911 caller believed that the same man had returned. Based on the information that the police had, they believed they responded appropriately. However, Brown and Thorne believed they were victims of racial profiling.
“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,” said REALTOR Brown. “Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that’s pretty much how we were treated in that situation.”
The Michigan police department addressed the situation in a statement.
“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 who were briefly detained, and our officers responded appropriately,” the statement read. “While it is unfortunate that innocent individuals were placed in handcuffs, our officers responded reasonably and according to department policy based on the information available to them at the time.”
Black Real Estate Agent Sues Police Officers and Department
Brown and Thorne were not satisfied with the response and treatment they received. On October 1, they filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the Western District of Michigan, according to CNN. They hired lawyer Ven Johnson to help them obtain the justice they deserve.
“It absolutely was implicit, racist bias, absolutely,” said Johnson, according to WWMT. “And the city of Wyoming needs to step up, admit it and they need to be evaluated to see what training that they’re giving their officers.”
The lawsuit lists five counts against the six police officers involved in the incident and the department. It states that the officers violated the plaintiffs’ civil rights. Brown and Thorne are suing for unlawful detainment and excessive force and violations of equal protection. They are also seeking to recover damages from false imprisonment, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.