Black Man Sues For Wrongful Arrest After Facial Recognition Software Misidentified Him

A detective relied solely on a technology with a high rate of misidentifying Black people, the lawsuit says.

A Georgia man is taking legal action after police wrongly arrested him in a case involving misidentification by facial recognition software.

Randal Quran Reid filed a federal lawsuit on Sept. 8 in Atlanta, alleging that Jefferson Parish, La., Sheriff Joseph Lopinto and detective Andrew Bartholomew misused facial recognition technology when searching for a suspect using surveillance video, The Associated Press reports.

Police in Georgia arrested Reid, 29, Nov. 25 on a Georgia interstate and told him he was wanted for crimes in Louisiana, a state which Reid said he had never visited. Authorities held him in a Dekalb County, Ga., jail until Dec. 1.

“I was confused and I was angry because I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “They couldn’t give me any information outside of, ‘You’ve got to wait for Louisiana to come take you,’ and there was no timeline on that.”

Facial Recognition Caused Georgia Man's Wrongful Arrest

According to the lawsuit, Bartholomew relied solely on facial recognition software to identify the suspect on surveillance video, who was seen using a stolen credit card to buy two purses for more than $8,000 outside of New Orleans in June 2022.

“Bartholomew did not conduct even a basic search into Mr. Reid, which would have revealed that Mr. Reid was in Georgia when the theft occurred,” the lawsuit reads.

It accuses Bartholomew of false arrest, malicious prosecution and negligence. The lawsuit alleges that Lopinto failed to implement adequate policies for using facial recognition technology.

Bartholomew declined to comment on the case, and the sheriff’s office said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Critics of the technology say it has a higher rate of misidentifying Black people than white people. At least four other Black plaintiffs have sued law enforcement agencies for misidentifying them through facial recognition technology – three of the cases involve the Detroit police.

Police car and officer

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“The use of this technology by law enforcement, even if standards and protocols are in place, has grave civil liberty and privacy concerns,” said Reid’s lawyer, Sam Starks. “And that’s to say nothing about the reliability of the technology itself.”

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