Facial recognition tool led to mistaken arrest, lawyer says

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana authorities’ use of facial recognition technology led to the arrest of a Georgian man under a mistaken identity on a fugitive warrant, a lawyer has said in a case that renews attention to racial disparities in the use of the digital tool.

Randall Reid, 28, was jailed in late November in DeKalb County, Georgia, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

His attorney, Tommy Calogero, said authorities wrongly linked Reid to purse thefts in Jefferson Parish and Baton Rouge. Reid, arrested on November 25, was released on December 1.

Reid is black, and his arrest brings new attention to the use of technology that critics say leads to a higher rate of misidentification of people of color than white people.

“They told me I had a warrant from Jefferson Parish. I said, ‘What is Jefferson Parish?’ “, Reid said. “I have never been in Louisiana a day in my life. Then they told me it was for theft. So not only did I not go to Louisiana, but I don’t fly either.

Calogero said Reid was falsely linked to the June theft of luxury handbags from a consignment store in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb in Jefferson Parish.

A Baton Rouge Police Department detective later adopted Reid’s identification from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to obtain an arrest warrant alleging he was among three men involved in another bag robbery luxury handbag the same week, according to court records, according to the newspaper.

Differences, such as a mole on Reid’s face, prompted the Jefferson Sheriff to rescind the warrant, said Calogero, who estimated a 40-pound difference between Reid and the purse thief in surveillance footage.

Jefferson Sheriff Joe Lopinto’s office did not respond to multiple requests from The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate for information about Reid’s arrest and release, the agency’s use of facial recognition or of any warranties surrounding it.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request, emailed Monday by The Associated Press, for comment on the story and information about the use of the technology.

Reid’s case draws attention to the use of facial recognition tools in Louisiana and elsewhere.

Facial recognition systems have been criticized for their mass surveillance capabilities, which raise privacy concerns, and because some studies have shown the technology is much more likely to misidentify black people and other people of color. than whites, resulting in mistaken arrests.

New Orleans police say facial recognition can only be used to generate leads and that officers must get approval from department officials before filing a request through the Louisiana State Analytic and Fusion Exchange in Baton Rouge. . According to the city’s latest rules, all possible matches must undergo peer review by other facial recognition investigators.

Legislation to restrict the use of facial recognition statewide died in a 2021 legislative session.


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