A New Jersey man filed a lawsuit against local police and prosecutors, claiming he was wrongly arrested and jailed after facial recognition software mistakenly linked him to a hotel theft.
Nijeer Parks, a 33-year-old from Patterson, said his grandmother told him on Jan. 30 of 2019 that an arrest warrant was issued for him, according to the civil lawsuit filed in Passaic County.
He was accused of shoplifting from a Hampton Inn gift store in Woodbridge and then clipping a police car as he sped off. But in early 2019, Parks said he didn’t own a car and at that time had never possessed a driver’s license.
Parks said he went to Woodbridge police headquarters on Feb. 5 to clear up the mistake, but was instead arrested.
“As he had previously told the clerk, plaintiff told the interrogators that (he) had never had a driver’s license, that he had never owned a car, and that he had never even been in Woodbridge,” according to the lawsuit by Parks’ attorney, Daniel Sexton.
“Plaintiff also gave … a solid alibi that proved he could not have done what he was suspected of doing.”
While Parks sat in jail for 10 days, he claimed police and prosecutors didn’t bother to check fingerprints and DNA left at the scene that could have cleared him.
“Defendant police department was relying solely on the faulty and illegal (facial recognition software) or some analogous program while all evidence and forensics confirmed plaintiff had no relationship to the suspect for the crimes,” according to Sexton.
Sexton says all charges against Parks were dropped.
County prosecutors and jailers, Woodbridge police and the mayor are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
A Woodbridge spokesman declined comment on Tuesday, claiming that no one from the township had been served with the lawsuit yet. Representatives for prosecutors and jailers did not immediately return messages seeking their response.