AI Flaws Land Innocent Man In Jail – eCrimeBytes Nibble #26

With ChatGPT all over the news, it felt important to show some of the flaws in AI technology.

In this case, a surveillance video of a jewelry store robbery was supplied to the Michigan State Police Department and and using AI facial recognition technology incorrectly identified the thief as Robert Williams. Then, apparently based only on the surveillance video, a security loss employee at the store identified Williams from a lineup despite not being present during the robbery.

Williams was eventually arrested and for over 30 hours.

Only after a third investigator was assigned to the case was it considered that Williams may not be involved because of the quality of the surveillance video.

Eventually the case was dropped because of lack of evidence.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said the case was dismissed because the Shinola security official who was shown the photo line-up was not physically present during the crime.

Williams is looking to have his DNA and photo removed from the criminal system.

Williams was arrested in January, without an explanation for his arrest, and held in police custody for 30 hours. He was arraigned on a first-degree theft charge and received a $1,000 bond after informing detectives their vague surveillance footage was not a match. Detectives realized “the computer got it wrong,” and released Williams, he said. Charges were dropped by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for insufficient evidence.

In addition to working with the prosecutor’s office, Detroit police are seeking to remove Williams’ DNA profile and mug shot from a state database, a representative told The Detroit News.

The police chief blamed it on bad investigative work:

“It had nothing to do with technology, but certainly had everything to do with poor investigative work,” Chief said Thursday. “But there is a bright light in it, the third investigator assigned to this, he discovered problems. The video wasn’t clear as he felt it should be. He felt more should have been done. He notified the prosecutor’s office and they quickly responded.”

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