posted by Crane-Station
This week I read a disturbing ABA Journal article titled, Cops seek DNA information from Ancestry.com and 23andMe. Police are now engaging in DNA fishing expeditions that reach beyond the law enforcement DNA database, and utilize the likes of DNA information in layperson ancestry databases – to develop various hunches about potential suspects – by searching through the DNA of the suspects’ kinfolks.
According to the article, this is how a man named Micheal Usry became a suspect in a cold-case murder that he did not commit. Apparently, Mr. Usry’s father had placed his DNA into a Mormon ancestry database for personal research. The father was excluded as a match to the DNA preserved from the murder but one thing led to another, and police, connecting dots in a manner consistent with their own version of DNA math, decided that Mr. Usry’s DNA must be kinda similar to his father’s DNA, which must therefore be kinda enough similar to the DNA found at the murder scene in the cold case, for an arrest.
The cops then used a ruse to get the (factually innocent) murder suspect to 1) talk to them at length and 2) provide a DNA sample. They told Mr. Usry that they were investigating a recent hit-and-run in the area, and could he please just help them out a bit by answering some questions? Mr. Usry, having nothing to hide, agreed. In the car ride on the way to the police station, things got weird, and Mr. Usry found himself involved in a conversation about his whereabouts years prior, on the night of the murder.
Eventually, Mr. Usry was cleared of any wrongdoing. Since his consent was obtained under false pretenses, he may have enough of a basis for a lawsuit for all of his trouble, which may have involved ruining his reputation as well as his job security.
This brings me to a point that never gets old and cannot be overstated: Don’t talk to the police. Ever. If you have nothing to hide (or even if you do), don’t talk to the police. The best talk I have ever seen on this subject is by Professor James Duane in the video that follows. If you have not seen it, I recommend that you make time, and share it with others. It is packed with information about how police coerce people into talking, and how potentially devastating this can be, even for folks who have done nothing wrong and “just want to help.”
On a lighter note, “So you got a DUI…”