Police and prosecutors are eager to use anything they can to identify a suspect and obtain a conviction, especially in the most serious cases, such as California homicide crimes. However, often this comes at the expense of—rather than the pursuit of—justice.
For example, take a recent New York Times article discussing the use of facial recognition software. Racial recognition software relies on computers to recognize human faces. In the law enforcement context, this usually involves a police officer inputting a suspect’s photo into the program, which then searches through a database of thousands of photos, looking for a match. Police will occasionally use facial recognition software if they have surveillance video or a still-frame photo, but do not know who it is in the photo.
According to the New York Times article, the use of facial recognition software was used to arrest a man for a crime he did not commit. Evidently, police received a report of a man stealing candy. When police arrived on the scene, they found the suspect at a rental car agency, trying to get his rental extended. The suspect gave them an ID card, apologized, and offered to pay for the candy.
However, when police ran the ID, it came back as a fake. When they confronted the suspect, they then noticed he had a bag of what appeared to be marijuana in his pocket. The suspect got into a car and attempted to flee. As the suspect was driving away from the scene, he hit a parked police car. One officer claimed that he had to jump out of the way of the suspect’s car to avoid being hit.
While the exact details of how law enforcement came to identify the defendant are contested, it appears they used facial recognition software to run the photo from the ID card through a database. The software returned a “hit,” identifying the suspect as a man who lived about 30 miles away.
Police arrested the defendant, who sat in jail for ten days before he could make bail. Later, the man obtained proof that he was at a Western Union trying to send money at the time of the incident. The case was withdrawn. Luckily for the defendant, he was able to get proof of a rock-solid alibi. However, not everyone will be so fortunate.
Facial recognition software is still used by law enforcement agencies across the country, despite the fact that instances such as the one described above are not uncommon.
Have You Been Wrongfully Arrested or Convicted of a Crime You Did Not Commit?
If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime, you have options, even if you’ve exhausted your state appellate rights. At Barhoma Law, Attorney Matthew Barhoma pursues post-conviction relief on behalf of clients charged with all types of serious crimes, including California homicide offenses. With his help, you can effectively pursue relief through a state or federal petition for habeas corpus. Attorney Barhoma also handles SB 1437 petitions and other avenues of relief for his clients. To learn more, call Attorney Barhoma at 213-800-7664 to schedule a free consultation today.