RReal estate agent Eric Brown, along with his client Roy Thorne and Thorne’s teenage son Samuel, have filed a federal complaint following an incident in August where Wyoming, Mich. the police ordered them out of a house they were visiting and handcuffed them.
By CNN, the lawsuit was filed Oct. 1 in US District Court for the Western District of Michigan and lists the city of Wyoming, its police chief and six officers as defendants. The costume calls for the officers violated the rights of Brown and the Thorne and seeks to damages for charges which include unlawful detention, excessive force and false imprisonment, among others.
As The Root previously reported, Brown was showing the Thorne house when police suddenly surrounded it with guns and demanded that they come out with their hands up. They were handcuffed and were not released until after Brown explained he was a real estate agent.
Police said Brown’s vehicle matched the description of a vehicle owned by someone who had recently squatted the house. Brown believed he and the Thorne were racially profiled because they are all black.
The lawsuit stems from an incident on August 1, when a neighbor called authorities to report that a suspect had been arrested at the property a week earlier for Entrance had returned to the scene in the same car, according to a timeline previously released by the Wyoming Department of Public Safety.
In the audio of the appeal released by Wyoming Police in August, the appellant is heard on the dispatch that a “young black man” had been arrested at the house the previous week. Police said it was a different caller than the original incident, but “the caller was aware of the previous arrest and saw the arrested person and his vehicle”, and the owner had asked him to watch the house.
An officer from Wyoming contacted the appellant to clarify that it was the same suspect and the same vehicle as in the previous incident. The caller confirmed that was the case, police said.
The appellant was wrong, however. Brown was showing Thorne and his son a tour of the house after scheduling the online tour the day before, Brown told officers, according to body camera footage released by police.
Body camera footage also showed the moments after Brown explained he was a real estate agent showing the house, according to CNN. Officers said the incident appeared to be a “misunderstanding”, removed the handcuffs from Brown and the Thorne and apologized to them.
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The lawsuit attributes the way the plaintiffs were treated to the fact that they are black, stating: “If the plaintiffs had not been African-American men, they would not have been held under the threat of a firearm, would not have been detained and would not have been handcuffed. . “
The Wyoming Department of Public Safety previously said that his officers were justified in their actions and that “race played no part” in their treatment of Brown and the Thorne.