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‘This never should have happened’ -- Wayne County prosecutor apologizes after innocent man arrested

DETROIT – Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy spoke to Local 4 Defenders after a Farmington Hill man was arrested at his home for a crime he didn’t commit.

He was arrested after facial recognition software identified the wrong man. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a complain Wednesday against the Detroit Police Department.

Why did the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office issue charges in the first place?

“Well, we shouldn’t have,” Worthy said. “This is a case that went to an APA large office, based on the info at the time. At the time it was issued, it shouldn’t have been.”

Worthy said she apologized to Robert Williams and his family after her office issued a felony arrest for watches stolen from a Shinola store in 2018. She said the case brought by Detroit police was based only on the department’s use of facial recognition technology.

READ: A closer look at facial recognition technology

Worthy backs up what Williams, hit attorney and the ACLU said in their complaint against the DPD -- that the technology identified the wrong man and police should never use the technology as the sole basis of its case.

“They are 100% sure they arrested the right person,” Williams said. “I am 100% sure they arrested the wrong person.”

“It was issued by a prosecutor that shouldn’t have,” Worthy said. “A supervisor discovered it and dismissed the case.”

Worhty said she has problems with facial recognition technology, the possibility of it misidentifying people of color and rejects the DPD’s policy on it, but will continue to use it in cases by having a supervisor look at it -- and it must be backed up by other evidence.

RELATED: Facial recognition technology: Rep. Tlaib raises concerns during tour with Detroit police chief

“This never should have happened. An apology is owed to him from us and we do apologize,” Worthy said. The 30 hours he spent in jail should have never happened and the case should not have issued.”

Worthy said they cannot legally dismiss the case, but her office will not pursue the case.


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