Police tried to access phone with dead man's finger

Linus F. Phillip was killed on March 23. Two detectives held the man’s hands up to the phone’s fingerprint sensor but could not unlock

Following a man's death, authorities in Florida went to a funeral home where his body was being kept and used the man's finger in an attempt to unlock his cellphone as part of their investigation. At the funeral home following the incident, officers held Phillip's finger to the phone's fingerprint sensor, but the effort failed to unlock it.

The man, Linus Phillip, was pulled over by Largo police for illegally tinted windows. The dead man's fiancée said that she felt disrespected and violated. Phillip had allegedly driven away from police before they searched him, after an officer allegedly smelled marijuana in his auto. Dead people do not have Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful searches and seizures, but Stetson University Law Professor Charles Rose noted that the deceased's family have an interest in his remains. "There's a ghoulish component to it that's troubling to most people". They did not notify his family in advance, nor did they obtain a warrant.

Authorities had linked Phillip to a separate drug inquiry that they were investigating and were hoping to access data on his phone that could assist their case.

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The model and brand of Phillip's phone was not disclosed, but it's possible that it could be an iPhone since Apple's smartphone is the most widely-adopted handset with fingerprint-unlocking technology.

Legal experts think that there is no need of a warrant to unlock a smartphone using the fingerprint scanner when the subject is deceased.

In other words, attempting to use a dead person's fingerprint to unlock a smartphone might be legal now.

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