By ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Troy Warren for CNT
Neighbor called 911; police department denies racial profiling
A Michigan Realtor and his client were briefly placed in handcuffs Sunday during a showing at a home for sale where a neighbor called police to report a break-in.
Officers from Wyoming Police Department, just south of Grand Rapids, immediately freed the men — both of whom are Black — after realizing the mix-up.
But Realtor Eric Brown and prospective homebuyer Roy Thorne came away from the experience believing they had been racially profiled.
Brown first noticed a large gathering of police outside while he was in the middle of pitching the home to Thorne and his 15-year-old son.
“Roy looked outside and noticed there were officers there and were pointing guns toward the property,” Brown said, according to WGN in Chicago.
From an upstairs window, Thorne identified himself and Brown to the officers who ordered them to come out with their hands up.
“They keep their guns drawn on us until all of us were in cuffs,” Thorne said, according to WGN. “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.”
Eventually Brown produced his real estate credentials, and Wyoming Police Department officers uncuffed the trio.
“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.”
Authorities revealed that the home had been targeted before.
“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,” Capt. Timothy Pols said in a statement to WOOD-TV. “The caller indicated that the previously arrested suspect had returned and again entered the house.”
Pols dismissed the men’s claims of racial profiling and said the officers acted in accordance with department policy when they deployed their handcuffs.
“The department was responding to a call for service, there wasn’t a racial element to it,” Pols said.
Brown said the episode has left him shaken.
“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 said. “Am I just automatically the criminal? Because that’s pretty much how we were treated in that situation.”
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