A federal lawsuit says officers violated the civil rights of a Black real estate agent, his client and his client’s son when they handcuffed the three individuals who were on a home tour. Michigan police have previously described it as an “unfortunate” misunderstanding.

Real estate agent Eric Brown, Roy Thorne and his 15-year-old son Samuel, in early October filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Wyoming, Michigan, the Wyoming police chief and the six police officers involved in the Aug. 1 incident, which started when officers responded to a call from a neighbor.

The neighbor believed a person who had been previously arrested for unlawful entry into the house had returned. The suspect drove a a black Mercedes but the officers only found two vehicles, a black Hyundai Genesis sedan and a black Chevrolet Malibu.

As Brown, Thorne and Thorne’s son, all Black males, were touring the property,  officers, two with their guns drawn, began gathering outside. Samuel Thorne (15 years old) quickly emerged from his basement and declared that officers were surrounding the property. 

Thorne, Brown and Thorne both stated that they experienced “sheer fear” when the officers approached their home. Before being freed, the three men were briefly restrained and handcuffed.

“I thought, ‘We’re going to get shot. Brown stated previously to USA TODAY that this was going to happen really quickly.

Thorne is an Army Veteran and said that he shares Brown’s fears, particularly for his 15 year-old son.

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

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‘Sheer terror’:Black realtor, Michigan police handcuff clients during home tour

They were ordered to bring their hands down by officers. They were handcuffed and put in separate police cars.

After Brown proved he was a real estate agent, all three individuals were released. According to the lawsuit, one officer told Brown that this was “big misinterpretation”. According to the lawsuit, Brown, Thorne and his son weren’t driving the Mercedes black Mercedes being described as the suspects’ vehicle. They did not match the suspect’s license plates.

According to the lawsuit, if they weren’t Black they wouldn’t be escorted at gunpoint and handcuffed in the manner they were. 

Michigan police found that no race played a part in their officers’ actions, after reviewing the footage on body cams. 

“We have concluded race played no role in our officers’ treatment of the individuals who were briefly detained,” the police statement said. Although it was unfortunate that innocent people were handcuffed, officers responded in a reasonable and consistent manner to the available information.

The Wyoming police department didn’t respond to USA TODAY’s request to comment. 

The lawsuit requests a trial by jury and alleges violations of the plaintiffs’ civil rights, assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

N’dea Yaancey-Bragg Contributing

Follow Gabriela Miranda @itsgabbymiranda

Source: USAToday.com

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