Randal Quran Reid was driving to his mother’s house the day after Thanksgiving last year when police pulled him over and arrested him on the side of a busy interstate in Georgia.
They told him he was wanted for a crime in Louisiana and sent him to jail. Reed, who prefers to be called Quran, will spend the next few days locked up trying to figure out how he became a suspect in a state he says he has never visited.
A lawsuit filed this month accuses a Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, police detective of misusing facial recognition technology and causing his suffering.
“I’m confused, I’m angry because I don’t know what’s going on,” Koran told The Associated Press. “They couldn’t give me any information other than ‘You have to wait for Louisiana to come pick you up,’ and there was no timeline.”
Gulain, 29, is one of at least five Black plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against law enforcement in recent years, claiming they were misidentified by facial recognition technology and then wrongfully arrested. Three of the lawsuits, including one filed by a woman who was eight months pregnant and accused of carjacking, are against Detroit police.
The technology allows law enforcement agencies to feed images from video surveillance into software, which can search government databases or social media for possible matches.
Critics say this results in higher rates of misidentification for people of color than for white people. Supporters say it’s critical to catching drug traffickers, solving homicides and disappearances and identifying and rescuing victims of human trafficking. They also believe that the vast majority of images searched are photos of suspects, rather than driver’s license photos or random photos of individuals.
Still, some states and cities restrict its use.
“Even if standards and protocols are in place, law enforcement’s use of this technology raises serious civil liberties and privacy concerns,” said Sam Starks, a senior attorney at the Atlanta-based law firm Cochrane, which represents Quran . “Not to mention the reliability of the technology itself.”
Quran’s lawsuit was filed on September 8 in federal court in Atlanta. It names Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto and Detective Andrew Bartholomew as defendants.
Bartholomew relied solely on matches generated by facial recognition technology in his pursuit of Reid after using stolen credit cards to purchase two wallets from a consignment shop outside New Orleans for more than $8,000 in June 2022. warrant. the lawsuit states.
“Bartholomew failed to conduct even a basic search of Mr. Reed, which would have revealed that Mr. Reed was in Georgia at the time of the theft,” the lawsuit states.
Bartholomew said by phone that he had no comment. Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jason Rivard said the office does not comment on pending litigation.
In an affidavit seeking a search warrant, Bartholomew cited still photos from surveillance footage but made no mention of the use of facial recognition technology, according to the lawsuit.
The detective said “reliable sources” told him one of the suspects in the video was Quran. Bartholomew said photos of the Koran taken by the Department of Motor Vehicles appeared to match the description of the suspect in the surveillance video.
Starks argued that the source Bartholomew cited was facial recognition technology, which made the affidavit “misleading at best,” he said. Starks said a January email from Jefferson Parish Deputy Chief Dax Russo to the sheriff was further evidence of this.
Emails explaining the events leading up to Koran’s arrest said police members were again told they needed additional evidence or leads before using facial recognition technology to issue an arrest warrant, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit accuses Bartholomew of wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and negligence. The lawsuit alleges that Lopinto failed to implement appropriate policies regarding the use of facial recognition technology and therefore he should also be held liable. It seeks unspecified damages.
While Koran was in jail, his family hired an attorney in Louisiana who provided photos and videos of Koran to the Sheriff’s Office. According to his lawsuit, the man in the surveillance video was quite heavy and did not have a mole like the one in the Koran.
The Sheriff’s Office asked a judge to withdraw the warrant. Six days after his arrest, the Sheriff of DeKalb County, Georgia, released the Quran.
He said his car was towed and the prison food made him sick. Gulam, who works in transport logistics, also missed work.
Nearly a year later, the experience still haunts him. He wondered what would happen if he didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer. He still thinks about police stops on Georgia interstates.
“Every time I see a police officer in the rearview mirror,” he said, “my mind goes through what could have happened, even though I did nothing.”