The grandfather was wrongly labeled as a perpetrator of a Sunglass Hut robbery due to facial recognition technology. He is taking legal action after experiencing sexual assault while in jail.

The grandfather was wrongly labeled as a perpetrator of a Sunglass Hut robbery due to facial recognition technology. He is taking legal action after experiencing sexual assault while in jail.

A 61-year-old man is taking legal action against the owner of Sunglass Hut after their facial recognition system wrongly identified him as a thief. The man, named Harvey Eugene Murphy Jr., was then arrested and claims he was sexually assaulted while in custody, as stated in the lawsuit.

In January 2022, a Sunglass Hut store in Houston, Texas was robbed by two individuals armed with guns. They took off with a large sum of money and valuable items.

The Houston police named Murphy as a potential perpetrator, despite the fact that he resided in California during that period.

However, the program is capable of scanning driver’s license images, which means that your photo may have been searched, even if you have never been involved in any criminal activities.

According to a press release, Murphy’s lawyers stated that he has a criminal record from the 1980s and 1990s, indicating that there may be a booking photo of him. However, they also noted that these past offenses were non-violent and that he has since turned his life around over the past three decades.

He is currently taking legal action against EssilorLuxottica, the parent company of Sunglass Hut, and Macy’s, a business partner of the company. According to the head of EssilorLuxottica’s loss prevention department, they collaborated with Macy’s and utilized facial recognition technology to identify Murphy as the perpetrator.

The lawyers representing Murphy claim that facial recognition technology is unreliable and the use of low-quality cameras further increases the chance of misidentifying a suspect.

A staff member at Sunglass Hut positively identified Murphy as the perpetrator in a lineup of police photos – however, Murphy’s legal team claims that the loss prevention team may have met with her beforehand, potentially compromising the integrity of the investigation.

“Mr. Murphy’s story is troubling for every citizen in this country,” said Daniel Dutko, one of the lawyers representing Murphy. “Any person could be improperly charged with a crime based on error-prone facial recognition software just as he was.”

Facial recognition technology, utilized by government agencies such as the FBI, employs intricate mathematical algorithms to compare an image of a wanted individual’s facial features with potentially millions of entries in a digital repository. However, it is not without its drawbacks.

In 2023, the Federal Trade Commission prohibited Rite Aid from utilizing the technology due to the company’s flawed system which resulted in employees making false accusations against shoppers for theft. One instance involved an 11-year-old girl who was detained and searched by a Rite Aid employee due to an incorrect identification.

The Federal Trade Commission stated that this flawed technology frequently makes incorrect identifications of Black, Asian, Latino, and female consumers.

In the year 2023, a female individual filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department following involvement by authorities.

She was mistakenly identified as a suspect in a carjacking.

The utilization of facial recognition technology resulted in the wrongful arrest of Porcha Woodruff, who was eight months pregnant at the time. Despite being incorrectly identified in a police lineup, she was sent to jail. Detroit Police Chief James White acknowledges that Woodruff’s photo should not have been included in the lineup.

CBS News contacted EssilorLuxottica and is currently waiting for a response. Macy’s chose not to provide a comment. Murphy’s lawyers did not have any further comments to share.

Caitlin O’Kane