Black family and real estate broker file lawsuit after police handcuffed them during house tour

Officials say officers acted ‘appropriately’ after previous break-in at property

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 09 October 2021 18:29
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Black family and real estate broker file lawsuit after police handcuffed them during own house tour

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A Black family and their Black real estate agent have sued a Michigan city after police handcuffed them during a house tour.

Realtor Eric Brown was showing the home in the city of Wyoming to Rod Thorne and his 15-year-old son Samuel in August.

Police responded to a 911 call from a neighbour and demanded that the three men leave the property with their hands in the air, before handcuffing them.

All three were released shortly after being detained.

The federal lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Western District of Michigan, seeks unspecified damages on five counts.

It alleges that six police officers violated the plaintiffs’ civil rights, including unlawful detainment and excessive force, as well as violations of equal protection.

Other counts include assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The city of Wyoming, the six officers involved, and the police chief are all named as defendants.

“The City of Wyoming does not comment on pending litigation,” the city said in response to the lawsuit.

The police department says it responded because the neighbour reported that a suspect arrested at the property a week earlier for unlawful entry had returned.

The Wyoming Department of Public Safety said that after an August internal review of the incident it concluded that “race played no role in our officers’ treatment of the individuals, and our officers responded appropriately”.

Officers are heard in dash cam video footage explaining that the house had been broken into the week before, and acknowledge that there had been an “misunderstanding”.

The lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs were treated in a specific way because of their race.

“Had the Plaintiffs not been African American men, they would not have been held at gun point, would not have been detained, and would not have been handcuffed,” the lawsuit states.

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