US police photoshop suspects photos

US police photoshop suspects photos

Portland Police (Oregon State, USA) removed the tattoo in the portrait of a bank robber to match the witness testimony.

Portland police suspect Tyrone Allen (50) committed four bank robberies in April 2017, taking more than $ 14,000.

Tyrone's face has many tattoos, while the testimonies of the tellers and surveillance cameras at the bank noted the bandits did not have this feature. So before giving photos to photographers, Portland police used photoshop techniques to remove tattoos and change Tyrone's skin color.

Photos of bandits (left), photos of Tyrone (center) and photos edited. Photo: Case file.

Photos of bandits (left), photos of Tyrone (center) and photos edited. Photo: Case file.

As a result, two of the four tellers identified Tyrone as a thief. One person even claimed "100% sure" and "never forgot that face". However, they have never been revealed by the police to have edited photos of Tyrone. The photo editing is not recorded in the case file.

Based on testimony of the witness, the prosecutor later investigated Tyrone on charges of robbing the property with the suspicion that the suspect might have used makeup to hide the tattoo.

In mid-August, Tyrone's lawyer filed a request to the judge to remove the witness testimony when identifying his client, alleging that the police had edited the client's photo to "mediate results", in violation of federal suspect identification principles.

Police representatives said the photo editing was grounded because he did not want Tyrone's tattoo to make him stand out from others in the identification process.

After listening to both sides, the judge said he would make a decision in the near future. The court's decision is thought to impose an important precedent on future police identification.

Tyrone's edited photos are placed next to others of similar looks. Photo: Case file.

Tyrone (first photo, second row from left) is placed next to other people with similar looks. Photo: The Oregonian.

In the United States, when a witness is identified, a police officer must place the suspect next to four other people (called "similar identifiers") with a similar appearance to ensure objectivity.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice's identification principle, if a suspect has a unique feature that the witness does not see (such as a tattoo on his face), the police should not edit the photo of the suspect, but should copy that feature on photos of similar subjects to avoid making the suspect stand out.

In case of failure to copy, the police need to black out their own characteristics on the suspect's photos, and black out the same position in the photos of similar subjects. In any case, the correction of a suspect's photo must be recorded and clearly stated the reason.

Quoc Dat (According to The Oregonian, The New York Times)