Black Man Wrongfully Arrested After Misused Facial Recognition Files Lawsuit
According to a new civil lawsuit, a Black man was wrongfully arrested following law enforcement’s misuse of facial recognition technology in Louisiana.
Randal Quran Reid, 29, was going to visit his mother on Nov. 24, 2022, when he was stopped by police officers in DeKalb County, according to his complaint.
“They told me that I had a warrant out of Jefferson Parish. I asked, ‘Where’s Jefferson Parish?’ because I had never heard of that county,” Reid told ABC News. “And then they told me it was in Louisiana. Then I was confused because I had never been to Louisiana.”
The arresting officers had two warrants for Reid’s arrest from Jefferson and East Baton Rouge Parishes in Louisiana but did not reveal any details to the victim. “I asked them why I was being locked up…And then they just kept telling me that it was out of their jurisdiction, and they didn’t really know,” he said. Following his arrest, Reid was transported to a DeKalb County jail.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office had been searching for an individual accused of credit card fraud upwards of $10,000 in the Jefferson and East Baton Rouge area. According to the complaint, law enforcement used facial recognition technology to identify Reid as a suspect and subsequently issued warrants for his arrest.
Gary Andrews, Reid’s lawyer and senior attorney at The Cochran Firm in Atlanta, spoke about the incident, “The facial recognition technology] spit out three names: Quran plus two individuals. It is our belief that the detective in this case took those names … and just sought arrest warrants without doing any other investigation, without doing anything else to determine whether or not Quran was actually the individual that was in the store video.”
The lawsuit lists Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy Andrew Bartholomew and Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto, III as defendants.
Reid is not the first victim of inaccurate or abused facial recognition technology. Previously, Black people and other people of color have complained about using facial detection, leading to false arrests and unfair termination. One instance in Jan. 2020 occurred when automotive employee Robert Julian-Borchak Williams, a Black man, was called into the Detroit Police Department to be arrested. Initially, Williams believed that he was the victim of a prank. That is until he later arrived at his home only to be arrested by two police officers in front of his wife and two children, according to the New York Times.
The officers refused to inform Williams of his crime. Instead, they only showed him a paper with his image and the words “felony warrant” and “larceny.” When his wife asked where they were taking him, one officer told her to “Google it.” Williams was one of the first documented incidents involving faulty facial recognition technology.
Williams’ distressing ordeal, as well as Reid’s, are just two of many accounts. Facial detection has proven unreliable many times, particularly for Black people. “There’s always risk when you go to jail, but I felt more in danger when I was being detained because I know it was for something I didn’t do,” Reid said. “I lost faith in the justice system to know that you could be locked up for something that you’ve never done.”