An federal judge in Oregon has to decide whether a man’s rights were violated when police digitally altered his mugshot and showed it to witnesses who picked him out of a lineup. Tyrone Lamont Allen is accused of a string of credit union robberies in Portland, Ore. He has a very distinctive look because his face is covered with tattoos. None of the witnesses remembered seeing tattoos on the robber’s face. Police looked at surveillance footage and saw no tattoos. Because of this discrepancy the police took the unusual step of using Photoshop to digitally remove the tattoos from Mr. Allen’s face and put it in a photo lineup which they showed to the witnesses. His digitally altered photo was picked out of the lineup by some of the witnesses.
Now a federal judge has to decide whether digitally altering his mugshot and not telling the witnesses that the photo was altered violated Mr. Allen’s rights. His lawyer argues that this is a slippery slope which could lead police to making similar alterations to other mugshots to fit the description and get a conviction.
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