Today in Hellworld, police are working backwards from witness statements to alter the photos of suspects so that they might be picked out of a lineup.
Police in Portland, Oregon — the whitest big city in the country, in a state that was founded with a constitution that made being black within its borders illegal — digitally altered the photo of a distinctly tattooed 50-year-old black man named Tyrone Allen, in order to try and implicate him in a bank robbery, according to Oregon Live.
The shocking move came after no bank tellers mentioned prominent tattoos in their description of the robber. Police reportedly altered his mugshot to remove his tattoos and then showed tellers a photo lineup, with some of the tellers then identifying him as the culprit.
“I basically painted over the tattoos,” police forensic criminalist Mark Weber testified. “Almost like applying electronic makeup."
Legal experts were a bit taken aback that police would do something that seems only likely to increase the likelihood of a wrongful conviction.
“It’s unbelievable to me that police would ignore the fact that no teller has described a person with glaring tattoos and make this man into a possible suspect by covering them up,” Temple law professor Jules Epstein told the paper. “They’re increasing the risk of mistaken identity.’’
Allen is currently in jail awaiting trial on three counts of robbery and one of attempted robbery. US District Court Judge Marco Hernandez is tasked with deciding whether the way in which he was arrested violated his rights and if the altered photos can be used as evidence.
The odd and seemingly unjust manner in which Allen was apprehended has already let to a fair bit of outrage.