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Lawsuit: Detroit Police Used Facial Recognition to Falsely Arrest Pregnant Woman for Carjacking, Robbery

— August 11, 2023

Local prosecutors have since said that proper procedures were followed.

A Detroit woman has filed a lawsuit against the city’s police department, claiming that she was falsely arrested after a facial recognition system misidentified her as a suspect in a carjacking and robbery investigation.

According to CBS News, Porcha Woodruff claims that she was preparing to take her children to school in early February when a half-dozen Detroit Police officers arrived on her doorstep.

The 32-year-old mother initially thought that the officers were joking—until they presented a warrant for her arrest.

Woodruff’s fiancé, who was present at the couple’s home, allegedly pleaded with officers to re-check the warrant and ensure that they were, in fact, supposed to be arresting a pregnant mother.

Attorneys for Woodruff note that she was implicated as a suspect after the robbery and carjacking victim selected her photograph from a digital line-up.

Woodruff’s photograph was only used in the line-up because Detroit police officers used facial recognition technology to generate a list of potential suspects.

Court documents note that the carjacking victim had purportedly had sex with a woman inside or near a BP gas station at 6240 Van Dyke Avenue.

After leaving the gas station, the victim was robbed and carjacked by a man somewhere near Bessemore and Gratiot.

Later, another woman returned the victim’s cell phone to the gas station.

While the carjacking suspect was arrested while driving the victim’s automobile, the victim was still shown pictures of a half-dozen women.

Detroit. Image via Public domain.

After seeing a picture of Woodruff, the victim told officers that she was the woman he had sexual intercourse with near the gas station, and who he believed had set him up to be robbed.

Woodruff was then arrested.

However, during an initial interrogation, officers realized that the carjacking victim had never said that the woman he met near the BP gas station had been pregnant—even though Woodruff, at eight months, was clearly close to delivery.

Woodruff was released from custody, but still arraigned on charges of carjacking and robbery. Her bond was set at $100,000, and she was ordered not to leave the state.

The case against Woodruff was dismissed about two weeks later, with prosecutors citing a lack of evidence.

Kym Worthy, a Wayne County prosecutor, said that the case was “appropriate based on the facts.” Worthy also said, somewhat paradoxically, that claims against Woodruff were only withdrawn because she failed to appear in court.

“The warrant as signed by the APA in this case was appropriate based upon the facts,” Worthy said in a statement. “This was reviewed by a supervisor before it was authorized. There was a not in custody warrant presented for the female suspect in the case. In the Detroit Police Department warrant package, there was a Detroit Police Department facial recognition record suggesting the woman was a suspect.”

“The photo was placed in a six pack and the victim viewed it an picked her out,” Worthy added. “He stated that she was the person that he had spent several hours with on the day he was robbed.”

However, Detroit Police Chief James White has since released a statement, saying that the allegations detailed in Woodruff’s lawsuit are “very concerning.”

“I have reviewed the allegations contained in the lawsuit. They are very concerning. We are taking this matter very seriously, but we cannot comment further at this time due to the need for additional investigation,” White said. “We will provide further information once additional facts are obtained and we have a better understanding of the circumstances.”


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