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Toronto Police Use Facebook Picture in Online Lineup 227

An anonymous reader writes "A 28-year-old woman was recently accused of assault and arrested based on a thumbnail photo from her profile pic on Facebook. Artist Lizz Aston was identified in a lineup after police used a picture from her Facebook profile. From the article: 'In an interview she said, "I told the officer I was at an art opening for a friend, then went home with my boyfriend because he injured his knee. We stayed in for the rest of the night and I did research on the computer for an art installation I was working on. The officer didn't care ... I don't think the police looked into it further." Aston said, the officer "read me my rights. I was searched, finger printed and processed."'"
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Toronto Police Use Facebook Picture in Online Lineup

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  • mistake #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:15PM (#39579917)

    You talked to the police officer.

  • "On the INTERNET!" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:19PM (#39579955) Homepage Journal

    That's all this story is, really. It's not a Facebook problem, it's a bad police work problem. People have been misidentified from photographs as suspects in a crime, and suffered as a result, since as long as there have been such things -- and police have been refusing to admit any wrongdoing, in this or any other aspect of their work, for at least as long.

  • Mistake #0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:23PM (#39579995) Journal

    You put your pics online

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:28PM (#39580041) Journal

    In a lineup, you get a bunch of people who match the general description given by the witness, including one who you suspect. You then ask the witness to identify the guilty party out of them. You can do it in person or with photos.

    In this case, they apparently showed the victim a bunch of pictures of people who had "friended" the bar, got an ID based on that, and failed to investigate further -- just arrested, charged, and let her try to prove her innocence, which she was fortunately able to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:35PM (#39580085)

    are you retarded?

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:37PM (#39580095)

    You're missing the point of the article. She claims she wasn't in the bar that night.

    No, that's the point of the summary. The article makes things less clear. In the article a victim identifies her using a photo. The accused shows the cops some text messages to suggest she was somewhere else. Given these unequal pieces of evidence, informing a person in such a situation that they are a suspect, reading them their rights and fingerprinting them seems a pretty normal thing for police to do. People get arrested and processed when they are mere suspects. The fact that the photo came from facebook isn't really relevant.

  • by ( 843637 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:00PM (#39580287)

    "She said she received an e-mail in January from a Toronto Police officer in 14 Division "asking me to contact them about an incident that occurred at The Piston (on Bloor St. W., Nov. 19, 2011)."

    And then she did? WTF! That's the last thing anyone should do. received an Internet message from someone claiming to be a cop? Step #1: Ignore it. There's no way on god's green earth that anyone should respond to a frickin' electronic message from a cop. Clearly the cops didn't think it was important enough to send a car around to her place. If she ignored it, it probably would have went no where. The only possible first step is contact a lawyer. She believed she'd be cleared because that she is innocent? What?! Is she new? Since when has that ever happened? Cops are interested in closing the file...if your name is in it, or someone else's, it doesn't matter.

    DO NOT TALK TO POLICE [], especially on purpose. Talk to your lawyer, have your lawyer talk to police.
  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:08PM (#39580329)
    She was a suspect, the police arrested her, then let her go. No charges laid yet. Her only alibi was "The guy I sleep with will say I was with him the whole night, we left the art opening early (in time to commit alledged assult) because he hurt his knee, which you'll have to take his word for."
  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by corbettw ( 214229 ) <{corbettw} {at} {}> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:10PM (#39580347) Journal

    Bears repeating: never talk to the police. They are not your friend, and they are not there to help you. They are there to close out a case as quickly as possible. Don't give them any ammunition to close it on you.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:10PM (#39580349) Journal

    Since when did the police e-mail suspects inviting them to come in and be arrested? And who in their right mind would accept such an invitation?

    Stupid criminals and innocent people. It's true there are a lot of the former -- and the cops don't believe in the latter.

  • Re:Mistake #0 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:17PM (#39580395)

    Mistake -1: you have more than 0 social media accounts.

  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:18PM (#39580403) Homepage

    I dissagree... the police are fine to talk to when you go to talk to them about something... a basic (but not legally binding) opinion/clarification of a specific criminal law, a break in in your home, a stalker, reporting unsafe drivers, a lost purse you found on a sidewalk (all things I've done... including #5 yesterday)... it's when they come knocking at your door and you are in their sights you alas have to be extra careful due to the whole "Anything you say can and will be used against you" bit.

  • Fuck the police. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:29PM (#39580479)

    That's right, FUCK the police.

    They get it wrong far more often than they get it right, and when they get
    it wrong, they are not accountable.

    Well, fuck this shit.

    I prefer the law of the jungle.

  • Re:Mistake #-1 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:33PM (#39580503)

    you used facebook.

  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:34PM (#39580515)

    The trouble is that this attitude perpetuates the us-versus-them state of affairs that has been growing. If we want to get back to having police serve and protect then we have to stop treating police as a whole as the enemy and instead single out the bad actors. If people just have a knee jerk reaction that all police are self serving and say so loudly at every opportunity, then the police will become more insular, more resentful of the general public, and the problems will exacerbate. There's nothing like telling the young idealistic police officer new to the job that he's an asshole; it's a great way to make friends.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @09:42PM (#39580581)

    Yes, the actual story is that the police didn't do their jobs, but that's certainly not anything new and it's certainly not the only story.

    Another underlying story here is that given a big enough sample size, it's highly probable to find someone who's going to be a doppelgänger of the person you're looking for. This goes for a search on looks, partial fingerprints, or even partial dna.

    Historically, this hasn't been much of a problem, but as technology advances -- getting larger and larger samples sizes of data is becoming easier and easier even for the average police man, so this kind of problem is only going to grow and grow as time goes on.

  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @10:05PM (#39580703)

    If we want to get back to having police serve and protect

    The police do serve and protect. Only you are under the misguided assumption that it's YOU they serve and protect. No, the police exist to serve and protect government, and they are one of the fingers on the hand of power that said government will use to crush anyone and everyone that poses an inconvenience. The world has ALWAYS been this way. To government you, the individual, have absolutely no value. You only exist to fill statistics, fill government coffers, absorb enemy ammunition, shoot a rifle or fill a grave. You don't believe me? Put government in a tight situation in a natural disaster or losing a war, and you will see just how quickly you will be stripped of all your worldly posessions and sent to the front (to protect the government), or shot on the spot. Your purpose is to do what you are told. And once in a while you will be used and made an example of, criminal, not because government cares about your victims, but because government needs people to BELIEVE that they care.

    Of course not everyone can see this. Most will think it's too cynical a view, and they would rather believe in that ideal paternal figure that exists to comfort and care about its people. But where have we seen THAT before? People are always looking for a return the comfort of youth when mommy and daddy took care of all the problems, so they believe in gods and governments and all sorts of comfortable illusions. Reality is different.

  • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @10:18PM (#39580769) Homepage

    The courts have ruled several times that the police are under no obligation to protect you from anyone.

    In a few months that young idealistic officer will be tasing the elderly/children and lying through his teeth while under oath in court.

    There are no good police until there are no bad police. End of story.

  • by msimm ( 580077 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @12:01AM (#39581391) Homepage
    By your logic, there are no good people until there are no bad people. It's fine and dandy to lump people together glibly, but I don't see how it's intelligent or insightful.
  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2012 @12:02AM (#39581403)

    If the situation has gotten so bad that being arrested yourself would still be preferable to the situation continuing, THEN go talk to the police. Until then, keep your trap shut.

  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zibodiz ( 2160038 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @01:13AM (#39581691)
    Not all police are bad, it's just that 95% are giving the other 5% a bad name.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @02:03AM (#39581949)

    this is not a case where such talk led to problems

    We don't know that. She went in and was 'interviewed.'

    The victim of an assault pointed at her photo and said she committed the assault. That is why she was arrested. Going in for the interview merely set the time and place that the arrest would occur. If she declined the interview, they would have come to her home or workplace and taken her to the police station. Arrests occur upon serious suspicion, not upon establishment of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The only way to avoid arrest is to lower the level of suspicion. Silence does not reduce the suspicion. Having your statement come from your attorney does not reduce the suspicion any more than if it came directly from you. If she went to her attorney and said I have a couple of text messages and an alibi from a boyfriend the attorney would have probably said "you are going to need more than that, lets go get some affidavits from other people who attended the art opening art opening before we talk to the police". Such is the value of an attorney.

  • by rcasha2 ( 1157863 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @02:40AM (#39582093)

    Sorry Mr. President, you're under arrest. You're being charged with 1,984 different crimes committed yesterday evening in 78 different countries.

  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @02:42AM (#39582103) Homepage Journal

    You're way too paranoid. I'm not even slightly concerned about phoning up the local PD to let them know that a traffic light is malfunctioning. I end up reporting malfunctioning lights at least a couple of times a year around here.

    I'm also not even slightly concerned about phoning the police to report a car accident, calling 911 to report a fire beside the road, etc.

    If the situation involves you in more than a tangential way, regardless of whether you're contacting them or they're contacting you, then and only then does the "don't talk to the police" rule kick in. It does not apply if you are merely a witness who happened to notice something hinky (unless you were somewhere you weren't supposed to be or were otherwise committing a crime at the time).

  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sco08y ( 615665 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @04:35AM (#39582409)

    I dissagree... the police are fine to talk to through a lawyer

    FTFY. Basic principle: if there's no tangible benefit that outweighs the risks / costs, don't bother. In most situations, the question that makes it clearest is, "is it worth paying a lawyer or some professional to discuss this?"

    The reason isn't that cops are bad or crooked. Your mistake is you think, well, I'm a good person, so I should report bad people to the cops, and the end result will be Justice!

    But you have to look at it from the cop's perspective: they don't see a dispute with a good person and a bad person. It's almost invariably two lying assholes, and if one person looks honest, he's probably just a better liar.

    And from your perspective, this other person is a bad person; you tried handling it like adults, but they are so anti-social that you want to call the cops on them! Base on prior behavior, you would expect that they're going to lie their asses off with the intent of using the law against you as a weapon.

    But let's look at your examples:

    a basic (but not legally binding) opinion/clarification of a specific criminal law

    I think this perfectly illustrates the principle. You're wasting your time and theirs. "Not legally binding" means "worthless." You also undervalue actual legal advice. At my present job, I took my employment contract to a lawyer and we went over it for an hour. For $250, I've got a professional opinion of what I've legally agreed to, not what the HR guy thinks I agreed to. The practical benefit is that if we get into a dispute, there's a much greater chance that we can resolve it like adults, and I can say, "no, this is what my lawyer says it means."

    a break in in your home

    After you've consulted your homeowner's insurance company, sure, file a police report. Your insurance company actually has extensive experience with that area of the law and can advise you on how to safely report the break in. And the report may be necessary to collect the insurance, so there's a tangible benefit.

    a stalker

    Stalking is invariably a case where two parties have a history of grievances against each other, and that's *exactly* the case where you want a lawyer to help resolve it as quickly as possible. The police are useless: they just want you to quit bothering them. (And, to be fair, can you imagine anything more awful than dealing with domestic squabbles?)

    reporting unsafe drivers

    Which is going to accomplish what? Again, if it's not worth the hassle and expense of a lawsuit, don't bother. And, again, driving is an area where you routinely get grievances on both sides. On the odd chance the police actually do something about it, this driver can lie to them and get you in trouble for filing a false report.

    a lost purse you found on a sidewalk

    Hell no! Good God, what if there are drugs (or any kind of residue) in the purse?! Or it was related to a serious crime? And there are *no* benefits, to you or anyone else. Most likely, that person is going to do the logical thing of retracing their steps, or someone else who is capable of not randomly dropping things they've strapped to their body can make use of it.

    I might ask a cop for directions or report a traffic light being out, because that's something that is immediately useful.

    Classic example that I actually did: I once called a police station because a buddy of mine had gotten drunk the night before and disappeared. What did they do? Told me to call hospitals to see if anyone checked in, and that they weren't going to do anything because (you have to admit this is true) idiots get drunk all the time and disappear. Call us again if he's gone for 72 hours or more.

    No benefit to me or anyone else whatsoever, and if he actually had disappeared, their primary lead would have been the idiot who called them.

  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @07:52AM (#39583085)
    I'm curious to know where everyone grew up that they have such a negative view on all police officers.

    While I may be a bit biased due to my dad being a retired cop, I had a few "run-ins" with the local police during the 90s (my teenage years) doing typical teenage stuff with friends. The only reason we ever had these run-ins was due to nosey people who didn't like the idea that a group of kids might be out having innocent fun, making movies (cops called twice on us even though we had permission from the property owner), having bonfires on private property, driving around town while fiddling with a cap gun (ok, this one was a legit reason to call, not a smart thing to do on our part.. but once the cops saw the cap gun they just told us to use a little more common sense next time).

    Of course just about every department will have a few bad apples, just like every office will have that guy who's willing to throw everyone else under the bus to further his own career. Most are out there trying to do a good job while at the same time making sure they go home to their families. Cops are paranoid because, to be honest, just about any person could be a threat considering the amount of guns floating around the country.
  • Re:mistake #1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday April 05, 2012 @02:49PM (#39589037) Homepage Journal

    The trouble is that this attitude perpetuates the us-versus-them state of affairs that has been growing.

    And who is responsible for the "us vs them?" That's right, the cops. If the cops don't want an us vs them attitude they should start acting professionally.

    Illinois outlawed the death penalty and set half of its death row free when it was revealed that half of death row inmates were there on trumped up charges. And people wonder why folks are leery of cops?

    John Burge, now in prison for lying under oath, presided over a Chicago police department that routinely tortured false confessions out of people who had been arrested, and you wonder why there's an us vs them?

    Wake up, apologists like you are a big part of the problem.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama