A story out of Oregon is painting the cops and Photoshop in a nefarious light as it is being reported that a police department removed a man’s tattoos from his photo before putting it in a lineup of suspects for a recent bank robbery.
Aside from the gross misrepresentation this caused, bank employees that were present during the robbery reported that the defendant didn’t have any facial tattoos. And it just happens to be a coincidence that, without the tattoos, the man in question does look similar to the bank robber.
The Oregonian reports that the police department justified their actions, saying that they believed the suspect in question, Tyrone Lamont Allen, might have used makeup to change his appearance. This approach is at the crux of a complaint in federal court that alleges that police were rigging the outcome of the lineup. During the review, some bank employees did pick Allen’s picture though they were unaware of the Photoshop manipulation to remove his tattoos PetaPixel reports.
Somewhat damingly, the changes were not noted in a report though Mark Weber, the forensic criminalist that works for the police department in this case, says that it has happened before because he is the one that does the Photoshop editing.
U.S. Attorney Paul Maloney defends the police department’s photo editing, arguing that, “The whole idea was to make Mr. Allen blend in – so his photo wouldn’t stand out…These procedures were prudent. They were appropriate.”
The ruling could have a huge impact on the way police handle photos of suspects and criminals in the future. Police lineups and eyewitness accounts are a notably shaky science, Oregon Live notes. The ruling in this case could make it even more so.
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