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Justin Brooks on How a Bad ID Made a Black Dog-Walker a Burglary Suspect

Justin Brooks

Just like he’s done every morning and afternoon for the past year, Ike Iloputaife took his two exotic Borzoi dogs for a 90-minute walk in his Vista neighborhood in the early-morning hours of May 16.

Little did the 55-year-old Nigerian-born innkeeper know he was walking into one of the most frightening experiences of his adult life, reports The San Diego Union Tribune.

Seven hours after he walked down Monte Vista Drive that day, a house on the street was burglarized by three young black men.

Six days later, the Sheriff’s Department issued a press release with surveillance photos of the three suspects as well as a grainy photo of a person of interest. It was a picture of Iloputaife, who is also black, walking his dogs through the neighborhood on the morning of the burglary.

Speaking to the Union-Tribune, Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project said bad IDs are the leading cause of wrongful convictions in America. And most of the exonerations he’s worked on over the past 20 years involve bad IDs by witnesses with a different racial background than the defendant.

“When you look at the studies, we are absolutely terrible at identifying humans who are not of our own race,” Brooks said.

Despite the flaws in the system, Brooks said the public and juries put great stock in witness testimony and photos on flyers.

“Sometimes we make mistakes and those kinds of mistakes can devastate people’s lives and leave their reputation in tatters,” Brooks said.

According to the report, over the past week, Iloputaife has spent hours meeting with detectives and calling, emailing and writing to local TV stations and news sites asking that his photo with the dogs be removed from stories about the suspects. His photo was still on until noon Monday. It was removed in the afternoon.

Read the full report here: