Randall Reid, 28, was arrested in DeKalb County, Georgia, on November 25 after authorities misidentified him as a purse thief wanted for crimes in Jefferson Parish and Baton Rouge.
“They told me I had a warrant out of Jefferson Parish. I said, “What is Jefferson Parish?”‘ Reid said. “I have never been to Louisiana a day in my life. Then they told me it was for theft. So not only have I not been to Louisiana, but I also don’t steal.”
He was released on December 1 after authorities recognized their error.
Reid is Black, and his arrest brings renewed attention to the use of the technology that critics say leads to higher rates of misidentification of people of color, according to The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.
His lawyer, Tommy Calogero, says that Reid had been wrongly implicated in the theft of pricey handbags from a consignment store in June in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb in Jefferson Parish.
Over three days, the thieves had stolen designer handbags from Louis Vuitton and Chanel worth $10,000.
According to the newspaper, a detective with the Baton Rouge Police Department used the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office’s identification of Reid to obtain an arrest warrant, alleging that he was one of three men responsible for another luxury purse theft that same week.
As a result of differences, such as a mole on Reid’s face, the Jefferson sheriff rescinded the warrant, said Calogero, who estimated Reid was 40 pounds heavier than the purse thief.
‘I think they realized they went out on a limb making an arrest based on a face,’ Calogero told the newspaper.
Facial recognition systems have been criticized for their mass surveillance capabilities, which cause privacy concerns and because of studies that have shown the technology is much more likely to misidentify Black, as well as other people of color, than white people, resulting in false arrests.