Agent, Buyer Sue Police Over False Arrests During Showing

July 18, 2019

A real estate agent and prospective buyer have sued the city of Cincinnati and three police officers for detaining them during a house showing. They entered the listing via lockbox, but a neighbor insisted they were breaking and entering. The lawsuit filed in federal court says that a retired Cincinnati police officer called 911 when he saw the two men enter the home and reported to police that “two black males forced the front door [of the home] open.”

Real estate pro Jerry Isham and the prospective buyer, Anthony Edwards, say they entered the home on Nov. 17, 2018, using a lockbox on the door. As soon as police arrived, the two men allege in the lawsuit that they were ordered out of the home at gunpoint by an officer. The men were placed in handcuffs and taken into police custody.

Isham and Edwards are now asking the court to hold the city and police officers accountable, and they say they want to prevent this from happening to someone else.

The lawsuit says that Isham and Edwards were never asked who they were or why they were at the home, which was listed publicly for sale.

“Instead of just talking to them, investigating ‘What are you doing here, do you have a legitimate purpose?’ they immediately went to guns down, hands up, handcuff, and then the illegal search of the pockets—instead of just talking to them like normal human beings,” Chris Finney, Isham’s lawyer, told FOX19 News.

The retired police officer later admitted to police that he did not have a great view of the entry and may have been mistaken, according to the police incident report.

“It was all about we’re black, they’re white, and this retired police officer’s word is over us all and we had no defense until they found out ‘yeah, they are here looking at this house,’” Edwards told FOX19 News. “And I was going to buy that house up until that point.”

The police department has yet to comment publicly on the pending litigation.

A lawyer for the city, Peter Stackpole, admitted that the arrests were a mistake in emails to the men’s lawyers in April and June. In those emails Stackpole wrote to the men’s lawyers: “Please extend my personal regret to your clients that this incident happened. It should not have. I’m enormously disappointed in the retired police officer who mistakenly reported this incident as a breaking and entering. Had he not mistakenly (given the benefit of the doubt) reported this incident, none of this would have happened. … Your clients should know that I intend to bring the facts of this case to CPD administration for action. I want the officers to understand the ways in which this was poorly handled.”