MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – When two men carjacked someone in September of 2021, robbed a group of women at the Mall of America a day later, and used the women’s cards to buy items at Walmart, Kylese Perryman was nowhere nearby.
Instead, Perryman was working the night shift, sleeping, and then attending a family birthday party miles away. All of this was easily verifiable by looking at his timecard, cell phone data, and a time-stamped photo at the birthday.
“Kylese Perryman was not one of the carjackers or robbers, and he was not even close to the scene. 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 Executive Director Deepinder Mayell. “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. We hope this sends a message to law enforcement everywhere that facial recognition alone is not enough.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and pro bono attorneys at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP filed Kylese Perryman v. City of Bloomington et al. on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The lawsuit against the city of Bloomington, several of its police including 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.
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 noticeably 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.
- Not asking to drop charges against Perryman for nearly two months, even though his defense attorney – who was left to investigate in law enforcement’s stead – repeatedly produced new evidence of his innocence.
The lawsuit points out it took several months more to expunge Perryman’s 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 using it altogether. Doing so reinforces racial disparities already inherent in our criminal legal system.”
Law enforcement’s failures took Perryman, now 21, away from his young family and prevented him from attending his friend’s funeral and his grandma’s memorial.
“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,” plaintiff Kylese Perryman said. “Time and time again, nothing's changed, even from my granddad’s history. My whole family tree has been through this. I’m trying to change it for my kids’ generation.”
The lawsuit claims Bloomington and Hennepin County law enforcement and prosecutors 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.
The complaint also asks the court to stop Bloomington and Hennepin County from using facial recognition software for suspect identification, and to stop them from using “Keeping Our Police Safe” KOPS alerts (which are not reviewed by judges) instead of getting warrants or having probable cause as they are constitutionally required to.
Attorneys include Teresa Nelson and Ian Bratlie from ACLU-MN; and pro bono counsel Molly Jean Given, Ike Messmore, Claire Barlow, and Taryn Ryan from Nelson Mullins.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the civil liberties of all Minnesotans.