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Detroit woman at center of facial recognition lawsuit responds to police chief's claims

Detroit woman falsely arrested responds to Detroit Police Department's claims
Detroit woman falsely arrested responds to Detroit Police Department's claims 03:42

(CBS DETROIT) - Porcha Woodruff and her attorney Ivan Land filed a lawsuit against the city and a Detroit Police Department officer, arguing AI technology was the reason she was falsely identified as a carjacking suspect. 

Woodruff and Land are now responding to Detroit Police Chief James White's claims that "poor" investigative work led to her wrongful arrest and not facial recognition technology.

"Mistakes cost, I will say that. It did in this case. I went to jail for what," she said.

Woodruff, who was eight months pregnant when she was mistakenly arrested, blames facial recognition technology for her wrongful arrest, despite White's claims.

"Ms. Woodruff is a medium-complected Black woman. What if the woman was light-complected or darker-complected? Before we have a suspect to determine who this suspect is, and they don't have one that I know of, how can you say facial recognition is not the cause? I think that's premature," Land said.

The arrest that led Woodruff to file a lawsuit against the city and a DPD officer happened in February when six officers showed up at her home.

Land is now considering adding them to the lawsuit, accusing the officers of gross negligence.

"I tried to convince them when they came to the door, 'Hey, I'm eight months pregnant. Hey, I have a vehicle. Why do I have to carjack anyone? You have me mistaken.' We pleaded. We tried to get them to listen. No one would listen," Woodruff said.

According to the lawsuit, Woodruff was wrongly identified as a suspect when her photo was pulled from facial recognition technology. It was later used in a six-person lineup where the victim identified Woodruff as the suspect.

Chief White says that violated policy because Woodruff's photo should never have been used in a lineup.

"The arrest was a result of a violation of our eyewitness identification and lineup policy," he said. "The arrest happened after that violation occurred, which resulted in a misleading lineup and a misleading photo lineup."

Woodruff and Land agree her arrest was based on a flawed investigation, but they contend that it stemmed from the photo pulled from the facial recognition technology.

The photo in the lineup was from her driver's license picture taken in 2015.

"I look different; my hairstyle changes. I look different. How can you tell me I look like somebody else based on what technology tells you," she said.

Woodruff's arrest is now leading to policy changes at DPD, which include no longer using facial recognition photos in lineups.

For Woodruff, the chief admitting her arrest was a mistake is the first step to righting this wrong, but there are no plans to drop the lawsuit.

She believes this issue is bigger. 

"If I wasn't pregnant, I would probably be fighting a case right now that's not mine," she said.

White said he will work to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

CBS News Detroit's Ray Strickland also reports White met with Woodruff and her family to apologize for what happened. He also apologized to one of her children for the ordeal.

At this time, there is no court date set for the lawsuit. 

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