Black Buyer, Realtor Sue Over Incident at Michigan Home

Police say a White neighbor called to report a break-in
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2021 12:23 PM CDT
Updated Oct 10, 2021 6:31 AM CDT
Black Real Estate Agent Handcuffed Showing a House
Stock photo of a house for sale.   (Pavel Danilyuk/

Update: A Black real estate agent and the clients he was showing a Wyoming, Michigan, home to have filed a federal lawsuit against the city after being held at gunpoint, detained, and handcuffed during the August showing. Police were called by a neighbor who suspected a Black squatter who had been arrested at the home the week prior had returned, reports MLive. The Wyoming Department of Public Safety denied race was a factor in the incident, saying officers "responded reasonably ... based on the information available to them at the time." The suit countered that the group had driven to the home in a Mercedes, making it obvious they weren't the squatter. Our original story from Aug. 7 follows:

A real estate agent showing a house to a potential buyer saw cops on the lawn. His first thought was, “He’s not going to buy this house now.” Eric Brown, who is Black, initially assumed there was a problem outside the house, NBC News reports. But the potential buyer, Roy Thorne, an Army veteran, grew alarmed when he realized the house was being surrounded, the Washington Post reports. Thorne was shopping for a home in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area and brought his 15-year-old son Samuel along. “I was scared for my son,” Thorne said. When Thorne, who is also Black, saw the police outside he called to them. The police pointed their guns at the house and ordered the two men and the boy outside.

The police kept guns drawn on them until they were done handcuffing them, and, Brown says, when he asked what was going on he didn’t get an answer. Finally he convinced an officer to check his credentials and let him demonstrate how he used an app to open the house. He says police told him a White neighbor had reported a break-in, and that a squatter had broken into the house recently. Police apologized, “but the damage was done,” Thorne said. “If you see a crime, report a crime. But if you see us just living life the same way you do, just let us do that,” Thorne said. (More police misconduct stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.