Man Jailed After AI Facial Recognition Wrongly ID’d Him As Robber: Lawsuit

Harvey Murphy Jr. claims he was beaten and sexually assaulted in jail after he was arrested for a Sunglass Hut robbery he did not commit.
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A Texas grandfather said he was wrongfully accused of multiple armed robberies in a lawsuit filed against Macy’s and Sunglass Hut’s parent company last week. The suit claimed their company used AI facial recognition software to incorrectly identify him, according to court documents obtained by HuffPost.

Harvey Murphy Jr., 61, accused Macy’s, Sunglass Hut and parent company EssilorLuxottica of false imprisonment and negligence after he was wrongfully arrested for a robbery he did not commit.

Murphy’s criminal case was dismissed months after he was jailed as a suspect in an armed robbery at a Houston area Sunglass Hut inside a Macy’s store in January 2022, according to court documents obtained by HuffPost.

Houston Police were called to the store following the robbery, where they were met with a representative of EssilorLuxottica, Harvey’s lawsuit states.

A man sues Macy’s, Sunglass Hut, and its parent company EssilorLuxottica for false imprisonment, claiming its AI facial recognition software incorrectly identified him as involved in an armed robbery at a Houston store.
A man sues Macy’s, Sunglass Hut, and its parent company EssilorLuxottica for false imprisonment, claiming its AI facial recognition software incorrectly identified him as involved in an armed robbery at a Houston store.
Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The representative said he worked in conjunction with Macy’s loss prevention to identify Murphy as the armed robber through artificial intelligence and facial recognition software.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by HuffPost, one of the employees at the Sunglass Hut told Houston Police they recognized Murphy as the gunman in previous armed robberies as well.

The lawsuit alleged that employees at EssilorLuxottica had prepped that employee to identify Murphy as the robber when police conducted a photo line-up.

According to Harvey’s lawsuit, he was taken into police custody after visiting a Texas DMV in October that same year to renew his license.

“He had no idea what was going on,” the lawsuit stated. “All he knew was he was being transported to the Harris County Jail because of a felony arrest warrant.”

The lawsuit said that Murphy was sent to an “overcrowded maximum-security jail” where he spent about 10 days and was “beaten, gang-raped, and left with permanent and awful life-long injuries.”

Murphy notified his defense attorney that he could not possibly have committed the robbery on Jan. 22, 2022, because he was 2,000 miles away in Sacramento, California, according to the document.

According to an order obtained by HuffPost, Murphy’s case was dismissed in November 2023 after Sacramento County confirmed he was not in Houston from October 2021 to at least February 2022.

Hours before Murphy was released from jail, three inmates followed him into the bathroom, where they beat him and sexually assaulted him, according to the document.

Daniel Dutko, an attorney representing Murphy, told HuffPost on Wednesday that his client is trying to forget what happened to him but is still reliving every terrible moment.

“When I asked him about the press this case was receiving, he said it was hard for him to keep thinking what happened to him, but he hoped the coverage would prevent this from happening to anyone in the future,” Dutko told HuffPost in an email.

Arresting people based solely on AI facial recognition is “a very bad way to do policing,” Dr. Adam Scott Wandt, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told HuffPost. He said law enforcement has largely figured that out, but “we still occasionally see police departments across the United States making this mistake.”

Wandt said proper training and protocols are important to “help law enforcement understand that positive facial recognition is not the evidence to put someone in jail.”

Wandt continued, “I think that corporate America and private security departments across the United States need to look at this case extremely carefully, because, unfortunately, a presumably innocent person here had extremely serious consequences due to what might be very poor investigation.”

Macy’s declined to comment on pending litigation when reached by HuffPost.

EssilorLuxottica did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

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