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A man in Detroit is suing the police after incorrect facial recognition led to his arrest

The ACLU is helping Robert Williams with his case.

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Image: Perpetual Line Up

It’s no secret that facial recognition has plenty of issues, so using it as a basis for an arrest should only be used to bolster other evidence. Well, that’s not what happened in Detroit, after a Black man was wrongfully arrested for a crime.

Robert Williams, the man arrested, is now suing the Detroit Police Department after they arrested him for a 2019 shoplifting incident. Williams was driving his car at the time. The ACLU is helping him with his lawsuit. As mentioned, facial recognition is fraught with issues, especially when it comes to Black people.

So, why was Williams identified? Grainy security footage showed a suspect shoplifting and then, using facial recognition, the police matched the footage with Williams’ driver’s license photo. Then, a security guard who actually didn’t even witness the incident identified Williams from a photo lineup.

“I came home from work and was arrested in my driveway in front of my wife and daughters, who watched in tears, because a computer made an error,” said Mr. Williams. “This never should have happened, and I want to make sure that this painful experience never happens to anyone else.”

Williams spent 30 hours in a detention center in Detroit. The ACLU originally filed a formal complaint and it is reported that the prosecutor’s office apologized for the incident and notes that the arrest was based on “sloppy investigative work.”

The ACLU also stated that the image was “woefully substandard” and that Detroit police should have known that the grainy image would produce unreliable results when fed to facial recognition software.

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