We got a black kid who was already in jail for armed robbery. Therefore, he must be guilty of an unrelated armed robbery. Oh, and we have an eyewitness identification. Let's send him to prison! Oops:
For 19-year-old Rodney Bradford, a simple Facebook status update turned into much more: a rock-solid alibi after he was accused of a crime.
Confirmation of the time stamp on the update and the location from which it was entered showed he could not have been at the scene of a robbery in another part of New York City. After he had spent almost two weeks in jail, the case against him was dismissed.
Confirmation bias makes police work easy:
The story began at 11:49 a.m. on Saturday, October 17, when Bradford was updating his Facebook status at his father's home in Harlem. A minute later, 12 miles away in Brooklyn, two men were mugged at gunpoint.
The next day, Bradford, who is facing a separate 2008 robbery indictment, found out police were looking for him in connection with the Brooklyn robbery.
Must be guilty. After all, he robbed someone else in 2008. No doubt the evidence in that case is as strong as it was in the Facebook case. Perhaps an eyewitness identification?
Bradford turned himself in, confident he would be cleared. But after one of the victims picked him out of a lineup, he was charged with robbery in the first degree and sent to Rikers Island, home of the New York City jail.
Nice. Fortunately the prosecutor dismissed the case after Facebook legal authenticated Mr. Bradford's location and time of posting. (Ponder that.) No one, though, is asking: What went wrong?
The kid clearly did not commit the armed robbery. Yet without the Facebook profile update, he'd have been sent to prison.
It's great that the kid isn't going to prison for a crime that he didn't commit. What about the teenagers not lucky enough to be home on a Saturday afternoon, updating their Facebook profiles?
Scott Greenfield likes to jab guys who are on Twitter on a Saturday night: "Friday Night Warning: Go out. Have a life. Do not twitter. Find real people to talk to. Look them in the eye. Interact. Maybe LOL for real."
It's a good thing Mr. Bradford stayed home, and a bad thing for society that Bradford's staying home is the only thing preventing him from being behind prison bars.