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Lawsuit: Louisiana Police Relied on Facial Recognition Technology to Issue Warrant for Innocent Georgia Man

— October 6, 2023

Attorneys for 29-year-old plaintiff Randal Quran Reid say it appears that Jefferson Parish officers on the sole basis of facial recognition search results, without having taken the time to conduct a proper investigation.

A Black man who was wrongfully arrested while visiting his mother near Atlanta has filed a lawsuit against his arresting officers, saying that they misidentified him as a wanted criminal through the use of facial recognition technology.

According to ABC News, 29-year-old Randal Quran Reid was driving to his mother’s house in an Atlanta suburb the day after Thanksgiving when he was pulled over by police officers.

“They told me that I had a warrant out of Jefferson Parish. I asked, ‘Where’s Jefferson Parish?’ because I had never even heard of that county,” Reid told ABC News. “And then they told me it was in Louisiana. Then I was confused because I had never been to Louisiana.”

The two DeKalb County officers who had pulled Reid over confirmed that they had two warrants, issued by Jefferson Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish. They then detained Reid and took him to a local jail to await extradition.

“I asked them why I was being locked up,” Reid said. “What is [the warrant] even saying that I did?”

“And then they just kept telling me that it was out of their jurisdiction and they didn’t really know,” he said.

Attorneys for Reid say that their clients arrest was wholly contingent on the use of facial recognition technology, which had identified Reid as a suspect wanted for using stolen credit cards to buy thousands of dollars of designer purses in the two parishes in which the warrants had been issued.

The facial recognition program “spit out three names: Quran plus two individuals,” said lawyer Gary Andrews, senior attorney at the Atlanta-based Cochran Firm.

“It is our belief that the detective in this case took those names […] and just sought arrest warrants without doing any other investigation, without doing anything else to determine whether or not Quran was actually the individual that was in the store video,” Andrews said.

Blue and red police lights; image by Scott Rodgerson, via
Blue and red police lights; image by Scott Rodgerson, via

The defendants named in the complaint including Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Andrew Bartholomew and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joseph P. Lopinto III.

“I was confused and I was angry because I didn’t know what was going on,” Quran told The Associated Press. “They couldn’t give me any information outside of, ‘You’ve got to wait for Louisiana to come take you,’ and there was no timeline on that.”

Sam Starks, another Cochran Firm attorney representing Reid, said that law enforcement’s increasing use of facial recognition technologies poses novel problems.

“The use of this technology by law enforcement, even if standards and protocols are in place, has grave civil liberty and privacy concerns,” Stark said. “And that’s to say nothing about the reliability of the technology itself.”

While Reid continued to languish in a DeKalb County jail, his family hired an attorney in Louisiana, who presented photographs and video of Reid to Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The person in the surveillance footage, says The Associated Press, was clearly much heavier than Reid, and did not have a distinctive mole.

The sheriff’s office eventually asked a judge to withdraw the warrant, and Reid was released after having spent six days behind bars.

During that time, Reid’s car was towed and developed food poisoning from meals he had eaten in jail. He also lost income from missing work at his job with a transportation logistics company.

“Every time I see police in my rearview mirror,” Reid said, “it just flashes back my mind to what could have happened even though I hadn’t done anything.”


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