Thanks to a phony, AI facial recognition tool, a Black mother of three was falsely identified and arrested for as carjacking thief. Now, she’s suing the city of Detroit and their police department for letting a robot get her thrown in jail for no reason. She’s the first Black woman to fall victim to the algorithm.
Not to mention… when she was apprehended by police, she was pregnant and ready to pop.
Porscha Woodruff, 32, was eight months along in her pregnancy and trying to get her other two children ready for school the morning of Feb. 20. Her lawsuit states that six Detroit Police Department officers came knocking at her door with an arrest warrant for carjacking. Like any mother whose busy morning school routine was abruptly interrupted by the police, Woodruff responded, “Are you kidding, carjacking? Do you see that I am eight months pregnant?” per the suit.
The police handcuffed her and booked her in the local jail. It wasn’t until 11 hours later that the cops realized their thief-catching-robot made a mistake.
Read more from CNN:
The carjacking and robbery victim contacted Detroit Police on January 29 to report the incident, the complaint shows. Oliver days later learned a woman returned the victim’s cell phone to a BP gas station, so she went there to review the video footage.
The video was submitted for a facial recognition request on the woman who returned the phone, and it identified Woodruff, the suit states.
Oliver went back to the gas station to see more video footage and “stated in detail in her report what she observed in the video footage, and there was no mention of the female suspect being pregnant,” the complaint states.
The victim was later shown a “six-pack lineup” including the eight-year-old booking photo of Woodruff and “allegedly identified” Woodruff as being present during the carjacking, the suit states.
Detroit was sued back in 2020 for the first known wrongful arrest involving facial recognition when the cops cuffed up Robert Williams for theft, according to the ACLU. Over the past two years other police departments in the country also locked up a Black person after falsely identifying them thanks to that janky piece of tech junk. Randall Reid, a Georgia native, was falsely also arrested by Louisiana police officers after they used the tool to identify him as a fugitive. Michael Oliver was wrongfully arrested after being falsely identified as a larceny suspect, per CBS.
The use of artificial intelligence has been widely criticized for its embedded racial biases. Back in 2019, MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini found the AI systems sold by major companies like Amazon couldn’t even classify the faces of Ophrah Winfrey or Michelle Obama correctly. More recently, a 2022 study by John Hopkins University and the Georgia Institute of Technology found that AI tools and robots learned their knowledge from gender and racial stereotypes.
For example, a robot was tested to categorize people of different races and genders. The bot placed Black men in the “criminal” block at a 10 percent higher rate than the neutral “person” block... and this what the cops rely on?! The police might as well hire a Twitter sleuth. The internet did a better job at finding the people from a pixelated video of a brawl in Alabama.
As a result of her detainment, Woodruff said she suffered anxiety, dehydration and stress-induced contractions. Her suit is seeking punitive damages but also raises a major concern about the racial biases in the facial recognition tool.