Listen Live

WYOMING, Mich. – A realtor, his client and the client’s 15-year-old son were placed in handcuffs during an Aug. 1 property showing after police responded to the Wyoming, Michigan, home on a report of a break-in.

Although officers released the trio promptly after discovering the mix-up, realtor Eric Brown and his client, Roy Thorne, told WOOD-TV that they are sharing their account of the incident because they were racially profiled. Both men and the teenager are Black.

>> Read more trending news

Officials with the Wyoming Police Department contend that a previous incident at the residence, and not race, led to the brief confrontation, USA Today reported.

Brown told WOOD-TV that he was walking Thorne and his son through the Sharon Avenue Southwest home when he noticed a growing police presence outside.

“Roy looked outside and noticed there were officers there and were pointing guns toward the property,” Brown told the TV station.

The realtor told USA Today that his first concern upon seeing the officers was that they were trying to arrest a suspect and might drive them inside the home, but when he realized he and the Thornes were the officers’ targets he felt “sheer terror.”

“I thought, ‘We’re going to get shot. This is going to go really bad, really fast,’” Brown told the outlet.

Thorne, a U.S. Army veteran who announced the trio’s presence to the officers from a second-story window before being ordered to exit the home in single file with their hands in the air, said that the same thought kept running through his head as he followed the officers’ instructions.

“I prepared myself to get shot or killed. I can’t get it out of my head. I keep replaying that walk down the stairs,” Thorne told USA Today.

Once cuffed, Brown said he had the chance to explain himself, showing officers his credentials as the real estate agent showing the house, WOOD-TV reported, noting the situation was resolved quickly, and the trio was promptly released.

According to Wyoming police officials, officers were responding to a neighbor’s 911 call reporting a break-in at the home and the presence of a similar vehicle used during a July 24 burglary at the property.

“The caller indicated that the previously arrested suspect had returned and again entered the house,” Capt. Timothy Pols said in a prepared statement provided to WOOD-TV.

“The department was responding to a call for service. There wasn’t a racial element to it,” Pols said during a follow-up interview with the TV station on Monday, noting protocol was followed.

According to USA Today, five officers responded to the neighbor’s Aug. 1 call and found two vehicles, a black Hyundai Genesis sedan and a black Chevrolet Malibu, at the property, but not the black Mercedes used during the July 24 robbery.

Officers removed the handcuffs within 10 minutes of arriving at the property and apologized but told the news outlet that a review of department footage from the incident found no policy violations.

“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,” the police department said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Brown and Thorne are consulting with attorneys regarding potential legal action that could ultimately alter local police policy.

“If that’s the protocol, procedure and policy then those are the protocols, procedures and policies that need to change,” Brown told USA Today.