A mistaken license plate camera reading triggered a high-risk, guns drawn traffic stop involving two innocent brothers in California. It turns out one of the brothers, Brian M. Hofer, is the chairman of the Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission, a panel of citizens charged with advising the city council on the abuse of surveillance equipment. Brian and Jonathan Hofer in December launched a federal lawsuit against the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department for its deputies’ failure to take any steps to verify the bogus automated license plate reader (ANPR, also known as ALPR) “hit” that sparked the incident. The case is scheduled for its first conference with US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley at the end of the month.
On November 25, 2018, the Hofers had been driving south in a rental car on Interstate 80 on their way back to Oakland after having spent Thanksgiving with family. Deputy B. Gant was following when he received an automated plate reader alert that said the brothers’ rental car was stolen. It was not. Deputy Gant activated his overhead lights and used the loudspeaker to order the Hofers off the freeway. So they pulled into a strip mall parking lot in San Pablo. Judge Corley earlier this year approved a subpoena that gave the Hofers surveillance camera video from a Ross Dress for Less Store that captured the incident.