Police in Oregon were confident they had their man in Tyrone Lamont Allen. They received a tip that he was the man responsible for a string of bank and credit union robberies; however, they faced one glaring issue. Allen is loaded in face tattoos, but none of the witnesses claim the assailant had any facial tattoos to speak of. 

So what did police do? As reported by The Washington Post, rather than let Allen walk free, they decided to digitally photoshop the tattoos off of their suspects face and show his mugshot to witnesses. Police did not inform witnesses that the mugshot had been photoshopped to match their description. Two tellers then picked Allen out of a lineup of five other men’s mugshots, identifying him as the robber.

On the surface, this seems like a case of blatant tampering with evidence, but ultimately, that decision will come down to a federal judge in Oregon. Allen’s attorney, Mark Ahlemeyer, believes allowing this type of police behavior is a slippery slope of injustice. “There would presumably be nothing wrong with adjusting various pixels to make someone’s face appear slimmer, so long as the government’s theory was that the suspect had gained weight since the crime,” the attorney wrote in a recent motion.

Perhaps most concerning about this story, is what the officer who altered the image said in his testimony, “There are times it has been appropriate to make those small subtle changes. The main purpose is not to make the suspect stand out.’’ This is a clear allusion to having used the tactic in the past, and apparently, including this methodology in a report isn’t a requirement.