A New Jersey is suing both local police and prosecutors after being wrongfully jailed for theft due to misidentification caused by facial recognition software.
33-year-old Nijeer Parks from Paterson, New Jersey said in a civil lawsuit filed in Passaic County that his grandmother informed him that there was a warrant out for his arrest on Jan. 30 of 2019. Per the warrant, Parks was charged with shoplifting from a Hampton Inn gift store in Woodbridge then hitting a police car during his escape.
Since Parks didn’t own a car or have a driver’s license at the time, he figured he’d go to the police department to explain the mistake. But when he ventured into the station on Feb. 5, he was arrested before he could clear his name.
“As he had previously told the clerk, plaintiff told the interrogators that (he) had never had a driver’s license, that he had never owned a car, and that he had never even been in Woodbridge,” Park’s attorney, Daniel Sexton, said in the lawsuit. “Plaintiff also gave … a solid alibi that proved he could not have done what he was suspected of doing.”
Still, Parks sat in jail for 10 days. He believes that if the prosecution and authorities would have taken his alibi seriously and ran the DNA and fingerprints left at the scene, then the entire situation could have been avoided.
Facial recognition software may be growing around the country, but it has a history of incorrectly identifying people of darker complexions. Parks’ attorney also claims that the software used to identify his client is “illegal.”
“Defendant police department was relying solely on the faulty and illegal (facial recognition software) or some analogous program while all evidence and forensics confirmed the plaintiff had no relationship to the suspect for the crimes,” Sexton said.
Passaic County prosecutors and jailers along with Woodbridge’s police and the mayor are named in the lawsuit. Representatives for prosecutors and jailers have yet to comment on the lawsuit and a Woodbridge spokesman declined to give a statement.
The police are already out here misidentifying Black people and creating trauma on their own, the last thing they need is software to help enable their racism.