Police tried to unlock a dead man’s iPhone with his finger

“Authorities in Florida showed up to a funeral home and tried to unlock a dead man’s cell phone using his finger,” Alix Langone reports for Money. “‘I just felt so disrespected and violated,’ Victoria Armstrong, the fiancée of the deceased, Linus Phillip, 30, told the Tampa Bay Times. Armstrong said two detectives showed up to the Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home in Clearwater, Fla. and tried to active Philip’s iPhone sensor by physically holding his finger up to it.”

“Phillip was killed a month ago by Largo, Fla. police after he tried to drive away from a police officer to avoid being searched after a traffic stop,” Langone reports. “Largo Police Lt. Randall Chaney told the Tampa Bay Times that the detectives were trying to gain access to and protect data relevant to their investigation into Phillip’s death, as well as another investigation Phillip was involved in related to drugs.”

Langone reports, “There is no expectation of privacy after a person passes away, so the move to access the iPhone by detectives was legal, but not necessarily appropriate or ethical…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Morbid and tasteless.


    1. Based on other reports, the attempt failed, as would be expected for a sensor that is not simply a fingerprint scanner.

      The police could have taken a fingerprint, created a latex representation and used a living finger to press the fingerprint to the sensor. That is how an early touchID hack worked. But most of our law enforcement agencies and representative appear to be woefully uninformed when it comes to technology.

      1. The police already have very clear fingerprint records of most people who are under investigation.

        If that technique of creating a latex impression of somebody’s fingerprint and wrapping it around somebody else’s finger actually worked under the real world conditions, the police wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars buying GrayKey boxes which would take several days to guess a moderately good passcode. Neither would there be thousands of iPhones in FBI offices waiting to be unlocked.

      1. You wouldn’t want to borrow or touch anyone’s phone, half the people out there take their phone to the bathroom, and they don’t wash their hands either.

        1. Moot point. Even if they washed afterward, they touched at least the stall’s lock, and maybe other contaminated surfaces, before they even sat down and got their phone out.

          That lock, of course, is then touched by people before they have a chance to wash up, adding to the joy for the next person.

  1. Wow, guess it’s not just in movies. The good guys are always stupid or aren’t all that good at all.

    Devin Prater Assistive Technology Instructor certified by World Services for the Blind JAWS certified


  2. Amazing, like emmayche I’m laughing that there is no indication as to the success of the operation. If you click on the link within the article however, it takes you to an article in the Tampa Bay Times where it does say that the attempt was unsuccessful.

    It certainly gives a whole new meaning to giving the police the finger.

  3. The man had been dead for a MONTH. TouchID wouldn’t have worked anyway because the iPhone’s security protocols would have required that the passcode be used for at least 4 reasons: 1. the amount of time that had passed since it had last been unlocked (48 hours), 2. the amount of time that had passed since TouchID had last been used (8 hours), 3. the amount of time that had passed since the passcode had last been used (6 days), and 4. the phone had probably lost its charge and shut down while sitting in the evidence locker (if not before) and, hence, had to be recharged and turned back on. It’s also probable that a 5th reason existed: more than 5 unsuccessful attempts to match a fingerprint.

    1. I had that same thought. There was no mention of violent behavior from the guy… He got shot and killed for driving away?!? There must be more to that!

      1. No, nothing more than shooting with intent the thrill. The media loves it and they herd laps it up. No need to look any further than MDN.
        Steve Jobs anniversary of death: Posts of respect and well wishes.
        Barbara Bush death: Posts of respect and well wishes, one political diversion.
        You tube shooter victims: A few posts of respect and well wishes, lots of gun topics.
        Parkland high school massacre: One post of respect, over 150 posts about gun discussion.

        Just a pretty good indicator that some people from certain countries value and respect guns more than they do life. I mean come on, drop a gun debate to pay respect to the dead, that would take a certain degree of morality that has not left Apple’s home nation.

  4. If the police had gotten a warrant I would have no problem with it. Possibly access to the phone could have resulted in putting more drug dealers in jail. I do agree though that government agencies in general are pretty clueless about technology (as evidenced by the attempt).

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