In the state of Florida, local police detectives broke into the funeral home of Clearwater to unlock the smartphone of the deceased Linus Phillip with his fingerprint. This time they have failed, but this can be a serious precedent for the future. This was reported by the local newspaper Tampa Bay Times.
The daughter-in-law of the deceased Victoria Armstrong told reporters that she considers police conduct “disrespectful and illegal”. The girl was in the funeral home shortly before the police tried to unlock the smartphone, putting the corpse’s hand to the fingerprint sensor.
According to Lieutenant Randall Chaney (Randall Chaney), the attempt to access the telephone of the man was unsuccessful: the smartphone could not be unlocked. The detectives claim that they wanted to collect data from his smartphone Phillip to investigate his death and another drug case with which he is connected. In March 2018, Phillip was shot by the police, because he did not stop on a stretch of road with limited traffic and touched the police car.
Cheney said that detectives decided not to receive an order for such actions, because, in their opinion, the dead do not have confidentiality. Nevertheless, according to experts interviewed by Tampa Bay Times, the actions of policemen are unethical in relation to the family of the deceased.
Also the lieutenant added that as far as he knows, this was the first time when the police tried to unlock the smartphone in this way. In the note the publication does not specify that the phone was in Phillip’s hands, but if it was an iPhone, the 48-hour window for which the device could be unlocked only through a fingerprint has long since passed.
Under American law, suspects can refer to the Fifth Amendment (allows you not to testify against yourself) and refuse to unlock smartphones with a password. However, the practice of applying the Fifth Amendment in such cases does not extend to fingerprints, as by law this is not considered a biometric sensor. Police officers can unlock smartphones of suspects with the help of their fingers forcibly.
The Phillip family does not trust the police’s conclusion about his death, where it is said that the man began to accelerate on the cordoned off road section and touched the police officer who shot him. The local prosecutor took the case under personal control to determine what happened.