Cops Digitally Erase Suspect's Facial Tattoos To Make Him Look More Like The Robbery Suspect Caught On Camera
from the police-officers-dig-deep,-find-new-lows dept
When the police have already decided who they like for some unsolved crime, almost nothing will stop them from getting their man. Investigations are supposed to involve investigating. But when a handful of tipsters said a black man robbed a bank, the Portland PD went to work trying to pin four bank robberies on one man. (via Simple Justice)
The problem with this man was his list of distinguishing features. He had several — all as plain as the tattoos on his face. (All photos via court documents.)
That’s Tyrone Lamont Allen’s booking photo. This is an image of the suspect captured by a bank’s security system.
The first thing that jumps out of this photo is the lack of things that jump out. No tattoos on the face capture by bank cameras. Plenty of tattoos on the “suspect” the Portland police decided to arrest. But at least investigators did a little footwork first. And a little Photoshop work as well.
Here’s the photo they used of Allen in lineups shown to bank tellers at robbed banks.
Yeah, that’s Tyron Allen — minus everything that makes him distinctively Tyrone Allen. This is what the Portland PD did to steer witnesses into handing them the suspect they wanted to arrest.
[W]hen Portland police suspected Allen was involved in four bank and credit union heists, and none of the tellers reported seeing tattoos on the face of the man who robbed them, police digitally altered Allen’s mugshot.
They covered up every one of his tattoos using Photoshop.
“I basically painted over the tattoos,’’ police forensic criminalist Mark Weber testified. “Almost like applying electronic makeup.’’
Police then presented the altered image of Allen with photos of five similar-looking men to the tellers for identification. They didn’t tell anyone that they’d changed Allen’s photo.
Some of the tellers picked out Allen.
All of this came out in court, leading to a large number of lawyers and laypersons alike to say WTF. Allen’s lawyer said the police basically “rigged the outcome” of the photo lineup. He’s not wrong. But his client is not the first person this has happened to. Rigging lineups is a cop tradition. The only distinctive feature of this one is the use of Photoshop to remove distinctive features.
Now, as Scott Greenfield points out, someone with a lot of facial tattoos and a predilection for bank robberies might realize those two qualities aren’t a good mix. Allen could have altered his appearance so no teller would tell cops “look for the guy with all the face tattoos.” (Reminder: none of the tellers told the cops to look for a guy with a lot of face tattoos.) But that would only have made Allen memorable for other reasons.
If a guy wanted to rob a bank, knowing he had rather unique facial characteristics that would make him very easy to ID, he could “sanitize” his appearance with makeup. But upon closer scrutiny, the theory has a flaw: the amount of makeup necessary to cover up Allen’s facial tats would itself have become an identifying characteristic. Even assuming he was highly skilled in the application of makeup, it would require so much makeup to accomplish a complete cover-up that the description would have been “guy in baseball cap, glasses and face covered in makeup.”
Having been caught implying all black guys look alike if you remove the stuff that makes them individuals, the government is now actually arguing that this is no different than digitally removing the hat and glasses the suspect in the camera footage is wearing. Altering photos is apparently “standard practice among investigators,” according to Detective Brett Hawkinson, an 18-year veteran of altering lineup photos and the lead investigator on this case. He’s the one who gave the orders to digitally delete Allen’s tattoos before putting his face in the PD’s photo lineup.
Yes, this is standard practice. The lead investigator could name no official policy instructing cops to remove distinctive facial features from lineup photos, but of course there wouldn’t be. It’s an unofficial “standard practice” — things cops do because of the gaping void where honesty and accountability should be. No one says this is how things should be done. But this is how things are done.
This incident was particularly egregious. And it came out in court. Now more people are finding out exactly what law enforcement agencies mean when they use the word “investigation.” It’s rarely a search for unknown criminal suspects. More often, it’s cops working backwards from foregone conclusions. This is ugly and cheap and the antithesis of the image law enforcement likes to present to the public: the good guys fighting the good fight. They’re fighting dirty and they like easy wins and easy days as much as anyone in the private sector. If the corner you have to cut is the distinguishing features that would rule out your favorite suspect, so be it.
Filed Under: bank robbery, evidence, lineup, photoshop, police, portland, tyrone allen
Comments on “Cops Digitally Erase Suspect's Facial Tattoos To Make Him Look More Like The Robbery Suspect Caught On Camera”
I hope the judge in the eventual lawsuit decides that qualified immunity doesn’t apply to those asshole cops. They deserve to have their personal bank accounts emptied for this.
They need to serve the sentence they imposed on their victim.
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Nah, not high enough. If a cop or other member of law enforcement breaks the law, whether by lying or introducing fraudulent evidence, in an effort to secure a conviction they should be punished with a penalty twice as strong as that conviction would have or did resulted in.
So if the crime they tried to frame someone for would result in a $10,000 penalty for the accused, they are charged personally $20,000. If it would have resulted in 5 years in prison they face 10.
If certain groups/professions are going to be given extra power and authority, above and beyond what others are granted, then the bar of acceptable behavior should be higher as a result, and the penalties for abusing that power and authority should likewise be higher.
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No court, being prosecutorily bias, is ever going to impose any harsh sentences on the men and women in blue because those people take all the risks bringing the meat and potatoes to the table. Good faith exceptions are handed out like candy at a parade these days. They are going to push the limit on what the public is too chicken to fight for. Thats what the flouride in the water is for and the lithium and God knows what else they are spraying on us tonight is for. And that is not a joke.
Well, depending on the timespan here, I can see this being legitimate:
step 1: rob a bunch of banks
step 2: get a bunch of tattoos
step 3: fail to get arrested as you don’t match the perp.
step 1: get a bunch of tattoos
step 2: cover up said tattoos with concealer
step 3: rob a bunch of banks
step 4: remove concealer
step 5: avoid getting arrested as you don’t match the perp.
So under either of those scenarios, having the lineup picture remove the tattoos makes sense, as the police were unsure whether they existed during the crimes.
But in this case, the security camera footage doesn’t seem to match even the photoshopped headshot, so you’d think they’d keep looking.
Yeah, about those two theories.
“Allen, 50, was charged in the four bank and credit union robberies, all occurring within a four-day period in early April 2017.” (Source)
“Allen has numerous elaborate and prominent tattoos on his forehead, cheeks and neck as revealed in April 18, 2017, booking photos shot following his arrest on unrelated warrants. Some of the tattoos even relay very readable names.” (Source)
#1 is a near-impossibility, given how the tattoos don’t look fresh in his booking photo. #2 is probable, yet highly unlikely — as the quoted article notes, the makeup would’ve been a distinguishing feature and thus worked against Allen.
The cops wanted to close a case, so they arrested Allen — a Black guy that kinda maybe resembled their suspect — then digitally altered a photograph of him so he would better resemble the suspect. If they have no other evidence that he committed the crimes they allege he committed, they shouldn’t get to use an obviously doctored identification as evidence.
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And the proper term for a suspect whose only link to the crime is forged evidence is: acquitted.
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And the proper term for a suspect whose only link to the crime is forged evidence is: framed.
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But that’s not actually true. A good Hollywood makeup artist, for example, can drastically change someone’s appearance in a way that looks natural. Except criminals almost never do anything like that. Greenfield’s statement, that "someone with a lot of facial tattoos and a predilection for bank robberies might realize those two qualities aren’t a good mix", is questionable. Based on history, many really will be so stupid, and the rest will wear obvious masks.
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Someone who can afford to hire that good of a makeup artist is not likely to go around robbing banks and credit unions.
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Not to mention that good Hollywood make-up artists make people look realistic on camera. There’s only so much they can do IRL.
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Someone might overlook that during a bank robbery. Stephen’s closer to a plausible reason. It’s not that the makeup is technically impossible, it’s that it’s pointless. Someone with the relevant time, money, skill, and/or connections has little need to be carrying out Hollywood movie-plot robberies for real.
Unless this suspect had a prior history of that sort of thing, this was a stupid move by the cops.
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We’re all assuming that an ordinary Joe can’t work out how to use makeup and make it look natural.
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"So you’re thinking its possible that the suspect went out and got tattoos a few days after the robbery and then hired a profesional makeup artist to make them look old?"
"I don’t know, Chief?"
"Good enough for me boy, lock ’em up."
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One more proof that some cops are capable of committing felonies at will.
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But the police can lie about anything with immunity, and they often do lie, even when they don’t need to.
Why the hell should we ever trust anything that comes out of the mouth of people who are authorized to lie to the public for a living? If the cops can lie to anyone about anything, but lying to a police officer is a chargeable offense, something is just not right in the world.
The minute police are caught lying about anything, even when they claim it’s just to try and get "their" story out of the perp, they should be thrown off the force. Dishonest enforcers of the "Law" are worse than robber barons (who at least had some reason to keep the peons alive)…
Re: Prison Tattoos
Those are not new tattoos. Many of them are prison tattoos – this is not this guys first rodeo with prison. I’ll bet he has a nice collection of mugshots in his history for comparison.
It makes sense when operating under the maxim "It is better that 10 innocents rot in jail rather than one guilty person run free."
It’s not the job of police officers to hide where the evidence doesn’t fit. When a witness states "that really looks like the guy, except for the tattoos", they can try to work out from there whether the tattoos were recent.
A mismatch such as that needs to be countered by strong other evidence. Like a memory of facial features that is poignant enough to overcome such a difference.
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Actually, that theory doesn’t work, since holding 10 innocents means that 10 guilty are running free. The better fitting theory is "We’re lazy and want to have credit for solving as many crimes as possible. It doesn’t matter if the person we imprison is guilty or innocent as long as we get credit for solving the crime."
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It is essentially a rule by terror method – trying to convince criminals they won’t get away with it from having few to none unsolved crimes. Of course the ones who actually got away with it wouldn’t be fooled and the human price is horrifying but that has an unfortunate history as a norm.
Ask you Female friends what its like Trying to cover Dark marks on skin..
Even considering they are White skinned..Its NOT EASY.. And it Can and will show up. esp when other women look at you, Because they know What it looks like.(it fills pores in the skin, makes it look Smooth)
Black/Brown Male skin is even worse. Generally the skin has Larger pores, and Any skin Adjustment requires the Whole face, which would make the Skin look Smooth as a baby’s But.
Robber was pretty smart…As the Glasses change what we perceive… Change the Eyes and Ridge of the nose..and you will see A dozen different people.
bulky Clothing, blocks Body description.
If anyone can tell, are those prescription glasses? Do we have a side View of the robber face, EAR ID..(yes that is a thing.)
Also,noted, is 2 of those pictures have been Over saturated White..which cuts out the Skin tones.
Hmmmmm…..makes me afraid of what the cops will do with access to all those Ring doorbell videos.
That this happened in my city only escalates my fear of the police. If they’ll do this in a "liberal hippy" town they’ll do this anywhere. Clearly innocence is no defense strategy.
If convicted, proving actual innocence down the road won’t get you out of jail either. That could be corrected by the legislature, but to their shame, haven’t.
The worst part is behavior like this obscures the prosecution’s responsibility to prove one’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. By altering facts prior to the arrest, that then become a part of the evidence trail, those alterations gain believability beyond any reasonableness, and to my mind create doubt rather than represent any evidence of anything. Those alterations might be considered credible even if they have no factual relationship to the accused.
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Judges like to believe they are infallible. Most people do. Courts as a whole like the concept called judicial finality — that once a court declares something to be true, it is indisputably true.
They’ve all forgotten the actual purpose of having judges and courts at all: justice.
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Donald thinks he is a court, lol.
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We aren’t talking about jesters!
Portland Police have a history of racist law enforcement practices. This isn’t surprising at all if you know the history.
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This isn’t even about racism. It’s about how far they’ll go to secure a conviction even if it means doctoring photos to make an innocent look like a suspect. I’m certain they would have done the same if the suspect was white and they had a white guy with tattoos who looked similar but for the facial markings.
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How ? Either way the perp is a criminal, I mean African.
Anyone want to bet on how long it is before cops are caught creating deep fake videos of alleged crimes and criminals?
It’s a sucker bet. Who do you think is pushing the tech? Why, the police agencies! If they can edit footage to make it look like that guy that they hate so much, then instant win for them!
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And the jury will be selected from those who believe .
Once again, cops use the excuse that something horrifying that they did is just “standard procedure”, not realizing just how bad it makes them look. Either they’re lying about standard procedure, or they regularly do something horrifying without a second thought. If it’s “standard procedure”, then there’s something horribly wrong with the “standard procedure”.
Why does this stuff happen?
seem to be plenty of cops who can’t be trusted and plenty of judges who can’t be trusted to hold bad cops accountable.
Why is this happening?
What is the solution?
Re: Why does this stuff happen?
Two words…Qualified immunity.
Get rid of it and we might find that those Amendments that have been around for over 200 years actually mean something.
Re: Why does this stuff happen?
Because Andy Taylor is dead and Barney Fife is now in charge.
Minor correction. There’s no Portland PD. It’s called the Portland Police Bureau.
Portland cops are notoriously racist despite Portland being a progressive liberal city. The cops coordinate with Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer members and actively avoid arresting on warrants or arresting rooftop snipers…as long as they’re white supremacists.
What is the difference between a Bureau and a Department?
Let me guess, Massachusetts isn’t a state either – its a commonwealth. And Louisiana has no counties – they’re parishes.
To a cop, the explanation is never that complicated. It’s always simple. There’s no mystery to the street, no arch criminal behind it all. If you got a bank robbery and you think the black guy did it, you’re gonna find out you’re right.
The guy in the bank photo wears prescription eyeglasses, probably with a fairly high power. You can tell by the way the edge of the face is distorted/smaller when viewed through the lens. Does face-tattoo guy even need corrective lenses? If not, it is highly unlikely he would completely hobble his eyesight while robbing a bank. Dark sunglasses, sure, but a high-power scrip? Yeah right.
Anyway, I am worried that doctoring the photo could be considered an acceptable procedure by the court, because it is always a remote possibility that the DA will claim that the suspect changed his appearance after the robbery.
Why not place the suspect’s fingerprints all over the place because of the possibility that the suspect was wearing gloves?
Sorry, it just is not the job of police to "improve" the evidence.
The only think that could make this story more disgusting would be if the guy they railroaded was only 5′ 5" tall and the robber was clearly over 6’… which would be another reason to do a photo lineup.
Obviously using stilts.
he was black
He was black and able to afford a defense lawyer instead of taking a plea deal. Obviously a criminal. Any self-respecting jury of upright white men would lock him up again to teach him a lesson.
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'We in law enforcement are never wrong. EVER.'
Having been caught implying all black guys look alike if you remove the stuff that makes them individuals, the government is now actually arguing that this is no different than digitally removing the hat and glasses the suspect in the camera footage is wearing. Altering photos is apparently "standard practice among investigators," according to Detective Brett Hawkinson, an 18-year veteran of altering lineup photos and the lead investigator on this case. He’s the one who gave the orders to digitally delete Allen’s tattoos before putting his face in the PD’s photo lineup.
Just… the fuck. They admitted, in court, to falsifying evidence in order to railroad someone into a conviction/plea deal, and rather than that admission resulting in the corrupt cop being fired and blacklisted from police work for life they doubled down, insisting that this act of falsifying evidence is standard practice. Removing hats and/or glasses is one thing, but tattoos? And old ones at that? Talk about perfect evidence of police that are completely unable to admit to being wrong on anything.
Re: 'We in law enforcement are never wrong. EVER.'
This is why I’ll always vote not guilty when on a jury: there’s always reasonable doubt, since there’s always the chance the cops framed the suspect….
Re: Re: 'We in law enforcement are never wrong. EVER.'
Good call. Maybe I won’t work so hard to get out of jury duty next time.
How long before deepfake technology makes him guilty in the videos too? How soon before every black guy in america "had a gun" after it’s "been reviewed by law enforcement"?
Would McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara have committed suicide if a little more editing was available against his allegations? Would he ever even have been served a warrant when some random could’ve committed all those rapes on film instead?
How long before parallel construction doesn’t need a crime anymore at all to make you guilty?
ONE innocent avoided a legal atrocity THIS time. But "digital makeup" is improving at breakneck speeds, and law enforcement is no fan of due process.
"How soon before every black guy in america ‘had a gun’ after it’s ‘been reviewed by law enforcement?"
Wait – you may inadvertently have hit on the solution! If every black guy in America HAD a gun, this crap might clear up in a very few years.
The ratio of cops to non-cops is about 1:450. The percentage of black citizen is about 12. The percentage of men in the overall population is about 49. A little dimensional analysis gives:
(1 cop)/(450 citizens) x (100 citizens)/(12 black citizens) x (100 black citizens)/(49 black male citizens) =
[(1 x 100 x 100) cops]/[(450 x 12 x 49) black male citizens, a.k.a., "black guys"] =
(1 cop) / (26 black guys)
Time to resurrect the Black Panthers ("Panthuhhhhh!")
I thought evidence tampering was illegal.
I understand the original intent of qualified immunity, however it does not seem to be applied in accordance with same. Certainly evidence tampering is not included in the list of things eligible for this overused immunity. But in the insane world of today, I am not surprised.
And if they’d photoshop’d his ears, then they might have really looked like the robber’s, too.
Ears are among the hardest to fake, eyes are easy to make up but I guess ears are details vittnesses seldome have in memory.
The different looking ears (not obvious in the mug shot though) proves that they weren’t interested in catching the real robber, just this guy, obviously.
Perhaps that’s how they work; go for some look alike guy they think have done something they couldn’t prove, and when they eventually come across the real robber they just use next crime.
Of course, all of this overlooks the fact that the cops are looking for eyewitness testimony which is maddeningly thought to be the most reliable testimony when it is in fact the <I>least</I> reliable. Seeing is believing? Ask David Copperfield or Penn and Teller or David Blaine how true that is. There’s a whole industry built on the idea that your eyes are easily tricked into believing they’ve seen something they haven’t – and that’s when the audience is sitting there <I>knowing</I> the magician is going to trick them. Imagine how much easier it is for your eyes to be fooled when you’re not anticipating that there’s something about to happen to which you should be paying close attention. When some random guy walks up to you and suddenly points a gun in your face, you’re not thinking about how you should be making a careful note of his description for the police report, the business end of a pistol has the remarkable ability to occupy your complete attention. "What color pants was the guy wearing?" "To be honest, I couldn’t tell you whether or not he was even wearing pants – he had a gun."
said so many times before. nothing more important than ‘law enforcement’ (and i use the term as loosely as possible) being able to say ‘we got a win’! it matters not in the least that the person arrested (and perhaps convicted and jailed) may well be innocent, as long as SOMEONE ended up giving the prosecutor another ‘notch on his butt’! justice and the law have been twisted and manipulated, just like the Constitution, to mean what is wanted at the time and courts, even the highest in the land, the Supreme Court, is not just allowing it to happen but ably assisting! that is disgraceful!
More than one Portland
Unlike San Francisco, Boston, or Chicago, there are many Portlands in the US. This particular case is coming from Oregon and not Maine, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, etc…
Re: More than one Portland
If you follow the link in the article it’s pretty clear this was in Oregon.
How many cop, police,federal agencies, Judges have we watched over the years??
And they are Almost always RIGHT..
You dont want the Stats on any of the real time stuff, its Really stupid..Lets just say that 90% were released after the fact.
On TV there isnt a perception of time, where many of the REAL based programs DIDNT TAKE 1-7 days, Many took years.
Judges are so overwhelmed with the cases brought to court Every day..They will let things pass that the cops or person did.. depends on the Judge.
Recent info that Should have been expressed Years ago, is Lots of the things used to ID persons isnt as GREAT as we think. And Camera have problems with ID of Dark skin.(there are things that could be done, but they dont do them)(like Wide spectrum cameras that goto IR and UV to register Blotches and Better Facial ID minus skin tones)
Good luck people.
There's a bit of logic to that...
There’s a bit of logic in what they did…and if the "standard practice" ever had a legitimate basis, I’d bet this is it.
AIUI, when cops are doing a photo lineup, there’s often one or two specific suspects in that list who they think did it, plus a bunch of random other mugshots. Ideally, all of those pictures should look similar. If the surveillance camera saw a black guy, and you give a photo lineup with a bunch of white guys and one black suspect, guess who’s gonna get picked? Ideally you want similar enough faces that anyone who didn’t actually get a good look at the perp will essentially end up picking at random if they try at all. Then if most of them agree on one person, it’s probably the right guy.
So, it seems almost certain that this guy didn’t do it based on his appearance. So you alter the face to get it similar, stick him in the lineup, and know that anyone who picks him isn’t a very reliable witness. Or maybe he ends up the most similar because none of your photos have the right guy after all. The fact that they came to any other conclusion is…well, I’d say it’s baffling, but I know a bit too much about US cops to see it that way. It’s probably just laziness, if not outright corruption.
Cops to the prosecutors: "You make the laws and we’ll enforce them."
He used makeup to hide his tattoos when he robbed those banks. Case closed. Your welcome