Michael Oliver facial recognition wrongful arrest

Occurred: September 2020

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Michael Oliver is suing the city of Detroit for USD 12 million for using facial recognition to arrest and jail him in July 2019 for a crime he never committed.

Oliver was arrested for reputedly having snatched a mobile phone which had been used by a teacher to video a group of students involved in a brawl near a Detroit school. Facial recognition software developed by DataWorks Plus matched Oliver with a photograph in a police database. 

In September 2019, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office dropped the charges against Parks on the basis that he had tattoos and other body markings that the real thief did not have.

According to Oliver's September 2020 lawsuit, '[Police relied] on failed facial recognition technology knowing the science of facial recognition has a substantial error rate among black and brown persons of ethnicity which would lead to the wrongful arrest and incarceration of persons in that ethnic demographic.' 

In July 2020, Detroit Police Chief James Craig had admitted facial recognition technology misidentified suspects in 96 percent of cases.

Operator: Detroit Police Department
Developer: DataWorks Plus

Country: USA

Sector: Govt - police

Purpose: Strengthen law enforcement

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity

Transparency: Governance; Black box