AFRICANGLOBE – The Portland Police Department reportedly removed the tattoos on the face of Tyrone Lamont Allen, a 50-year old man, using Photoshop to make him look like the accused suspect in a string of bank robberies in April 2017.
Portland police suspected Allen, who has tattoos covering his forehead and cheeks, was involved in bank robberies. However, surveillance footage of the crime shows the actual robber has no face tattoos. None of the tellers who witnessed the incident described the robber with face tattoos as well.
Still, Allen was charged in connection to the robbery. Investigators allegedly altered his mug shot using Photoshop, then presented it to the tellers without letting them know that it was altered. Some of the tellers picked Allen out of the photo array of five similar-looking men and identified him as the robber.
What the police did has since caused outrage, with some saying the police photoshopped an innocent man’s face so they could just immediately make an arrest without exerting much effort.
The police officers involved have yet to face any consequence. It is also yet to be determined if Allen’s rights were violated and if the photoshopped evidence would be accepted in court.
However, police officers claimed that Allen could have actually put on a makeup prior to robbing banks so they digitally covered his face tattoos to keep the witnesses from being “distracted.”
“I basically painted over the tattoos,” police forensic criminalist Mark Weber testified. “Almost like applying electronic makeup.”
Meanwhile, Jules Epstein, a law professor at Temple University and leading national authority on eyewitness testimony, said it is an inappropriate practice.
“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,” he told The Oregonian. “They’re increasing the risk of mistaken identity.”