US Mom Blames Face Recognition Technology for Flawed Arrest

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A mother is suing the city of Detroit, saying unreliable facial recognition technology led to her being falsely arrested for carjacking while she was eight months pregnant. 

Porcha Woodruff was getting her two children ready for school the morning of February 16 when a half-dozen police officers showed up at her door to arrest her, taking her away in handcuffs, the 32-year-old Detroit woman said in a federal lawsuit.

“They presented her with an arrest warrant for robbery and carjacking, leaving her baffled and assuming it was a joke, given her visibly pregnant state,” her attorney wrote in a lawsuit accusing the city of false arrest. 

The suit, filed Thursday, argues that police relied on facial recognition technology that should not be trusted, given “inherent flaws and unreliability, particularly when attempting to identify Black individuals” such as Woodruff.

Some experts say facial recognition technology is more prone to error when analyzing the faces of people of color.

In a statement Sunday, the Wayne County prosecutor’s office said the warrant that led to Woodruff’s arrest was on solid ground, NBC News reported.

“The warrant was appropriate based upon the facts,” it said.

The case began in late January, when police investigating a reported carjacking by a gunman used imagery from a gas station’s security video to track down a woman believed to have been involved in the crime, according to the suit.

Facial recognition analysis from the video identified Woodruff as a possible match, the suit said.

Woodruff’s picture from a 2015 arrest was in a set of photos shown to the carjacking victim, who picked her out, according to the lawsuit.

Woodruff was freed on bond the day of her arrest and the charges against her were later dropped due to insufficient evidence, the civil complaint maintained. 

“This case highlights the significant flaws associated with using facial recognition technology to identify criminal suspects,” the suit argued.

Woodruff’s suit seeks unspecified financial damages plus legal fees. 

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