Detroit Woman Files Lawsuit After Facial Recognition Misidentifies Her As A Carjacking Suspect

Many people are leery about the virtues of artificial intelligence and facial recognition, particularly people of color, as many AI developers and the technology can be biased against people who don’t look like them. This has caused numerous issues, and in Detroit, a Black woman is suing the city for being falsely arrested due to a facial recognition error.

According to The Washington Post, Porcha Woodruff, who was eight months pregnant then, was arrested by six Detroit police officers as she opened the door to her house. She was charged with robbery and carjacking. She discovered that facial recognition software erroneously matched a picture taken eight years ago when she was detained for driving with an expired license. The software matched that image with video footage of a suspect.

The victim also pointed to the old photo of her in a lineup.

After her troubling ordeal, she filed a lawsuit against the city of Detroit and a detective in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She recently filed paperwork alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, and a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights to be protected from unreasonable seizures.

The 32-year-old is the third person to file a lawsuit against the Detroit police due to a false arrest because of faulty recognition software.

“Facial recognition technology has long been known for its inherent flaws and unreliability, particularly when attempting to identify Black individuals such as Porcha Woodruff,” the lawsuit stated. “It should be understood that facial recognition alone cannot serve as probable cause for arrests.”

After asking police officers how can she be guilty of a recent carjacking when she was eight months pregnant, her plea went unheard, and she was taken to the Detroit Detention Center. Detective LaShauntia Oliver, also named in the lawsuit, told Woodruff that the victim did not describe the suspect as a pregnant woman.

“Despite knowing the plaintiff was not involved in the robbery or carjacking, Detective Oliver directed the plaintiff back to the holding cell,” the lawsuit stated. It also says that the police department refused to use a recent driver’s license photo of Woodruff in the facial recognition software and not asking the suspect if they recognized Woodruff.

In March 2023, the case against Woodruff was dropped, but the trauma of being arrested has caused anxiety, depression, and extreme stress added to a pregnancy that was already difficult.