Artificial Intelligence: Suit Claims A Chicago Man Was Wrongfully Imprisoned Based On ShotSpotter AI

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The suit is seeking damages from the Chicago city for mental anguish, loss of income, and legal bills for Michael Williams, who still suffers from a tremor in his hand that developed while he was locked up.

After spending nearly a year behind bars, Michael Williams filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago over the shooting of a man in his car in 2017. Prosecutors withdrew the charges against the 65-year-old after they discovered insufficient evidence. The human rights advocacy group at Northwestern University said the city’s law enforcement relied solely on ShotSpotter technology and ignored other leads in the investigation. (GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT)

The lawsuit, filed by the MacArthur Justice Center, seeks compensation for Williams, who still suffers tremors in his hand as a result of spending time in jail. Ortiz, a 23-year-old man who was arbitrarily arrested and jailed by police after ShotSpotter activated, is among plaintiffs with the same grievance. Daniel Ortiz was arrested and jailed by police, in response to an artificial intelligence alert from ShotSpotter, after the system detected gunfire.

The suit is also seeking class-action status for other Chicago residents who may have been stopped based on the same AI alert system, as well as a court order to ban the use of the AI technology alleged to be at fault.

Controversial ShotSpotter

If the lawsuit succeeds, Chicago may have suspend policing activity based on alerts from ShotSpotter. Since the city renewed its $33 million contract with the artificial intelligence company last year, this could get complicated.

According to The Byte, the case could well determine the future of AI-assisted policing.

ShotSpotter has been at the center of a controversy previously, too. A 2021 investigation by the MacArthur Project claimed 89% of ShotSpotter alerts lacked any on-site evidence.

Furthermore, a ShotSpotter alert resulted in the death of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of the Chicago Police in 2021, according to an investigation by Vice.

The Williams lawsuit also takes aim at racial discrimination by the city in its decision to place most of its gunshot-detection sensors in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.

Related Story: Evolv Uses AI To Detect Weapons In Schools

Image Credit: ShotSpotter Media Kit

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