Kylese Perryman was driving home from seeing his dad in September 2021 when a state trooper pulled him over, saying his license tabs were expired.
The next thing he knew, the trooper detained him based on an armed robbery alert, and Perryman was taken to jail.
“I’m in there, sick to my stomach, because I knew I didn’t do it,” Perryman said. “I was confused. I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew they had the wrong person.”
What he would learn was that over a two-day period, two men had carjacked someone, robbed a group of people at the Mall of America, and then used the stolen cards at Walmart. Police decided Perryman was one of the suspects based on faulty facial recognition, then failed to do a basic investigation that would easily have cleared him.
In fact, when the crimes occurred, Perryman was miles away. He had proof he was working the night shift, sleeping, and then at a birthday party during all three incidents.
The ACLU of Minnesota and pro bono attorneys at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarbrough LLP sued on his behalf in federal district court on Wednesday, June 28. The suit against the city of Bloomington, police Detective Andrew Risdall, and Hennepin County alleges that law enforcement “carelessly and incorrectly identified him (Perryman) as another Black man,” arresting and detaining him without probable cause.
"It is outrageous that law enforcement failed to do an even basic investigation that would easily have demonstrated his innocence, and instead chose to arrest him,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson. “This appalling false arrest and imprisonment clearly violates Mr. Perryman’s constitutional rights and stands as a terrible example of policing that needs immediate redress.”
Law enforcement’s failures alleged in the suit include:
- Not conducting a photographic or in-person lineup.
- Not contacting any of the eyewitnesses to seek further identification.
- Not considering or investigating Perryman’s alibis, including cell phone records, all of which showed him miles away when the crimes took place.
- Not noting that Perryman has tattoos on his forearm, while the suspect did not.
- Not comparing Perryman’s height, weight and features with photos of the suspect – who was about 5 inches shorter and 35 pounds heavier.
- Putting out an alert that he was “known to be armed and pistol whipped a victim,” despite no history of violent crime, putting him at risk for a dangerous encounter with police.
And it wasn’t police who figured all of this out. It was Perryman’s defense attorney, who steadily brought forth evidence of his innocence, the opposite of how the criminal legal system is supposed to work.
“Instead of doing everything that they needed to do to find out it wasn't me, I feel like I had to prove my innocence,” Perryman said. “It was a lot of tension and humiliation and accusations. I’ve already had my fear of police my whole life. That just sealed the deal for me.”
It took nearly two months for authorities to drop the charges – and several months more to expunge his record. Officials then blamed facial recognition software errors for the arrest.
“Relying solely on facial recognition to identify a suspect is a violation of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office’s own training materials, which note the technology is not absolute or reliable and should not be used to positively identify an individual,” said Nelson Mullins partner Molly Jean Given. “Indeed, several studies have shown that this software routinely fails to accurately identify people of color, and some cities and counties across the country have stopped employing it altogether. Using it reinforces racial disparities already inherent in our criminal legal system.”
Law enforcement’s failures took Perryman, now 21, away from his young family and his job, and prevented him from attending the funeral of a friend and a memorial for his grandma.
The lawsuit claims Bloomington and Hennepin County law enforcement violated Perryman’s Fourth Amendment protection against false arrest and false imprisonment and failed to train and supervise law enforcement on proper identification and arrest of suspects. It seeks more than $250,000 in damages.
“Time and time again, nothing about the system has changed, even from my granddad’s history — my whole family tree has been through this,” Perryman said, explaining why he is suing the police.
“I’m trying to change it for my kids’ generation,” he said.