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A Massachusetts State Police sergeant has been relieved of duty for leaking behind-the-scenes photos of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev manhunt to Boston magazine.
Sean Murphy had been outraged over what he perceived as the glamorization of the Boston Marathon bomber by Rolling Stone, which chose Tsarnaev as its August issue cover boy. The controversy-stirring image — featuring the 19-year-old with shaggy hair, facial scruff and wide-eyed stare — has prompted comparisons to the publication’s past covers of The Doors’ Jim Morrison and killer Charles Manson.
A tactical photographer for the Massachusetts State Police, Murphy — who had served 25 years on the force — was stripped of his badge, gun and police ID on Thursday night shortly after giving Boston magazine hundreds of images he snapped of the dramatic search for Tsarnaev and his eventual capture April 19. The magazine reported that Murphy — who aimed to cut through a brewing mythology of Tsarnaev as a louche teen-rebel with pictures that showed him bloodied, dazed and cornered by police — hasn’t been fired and was told not to speak with the media.
On Friday, police spokesman David Procopio told the Associated Press that Murphy was relieved of duty for one day, with a hearing planned on whether to suspend him amid an internal investigation into the leak. A date for the hearing was not disclosed.
Murphy issued this statement to Boston magazine Thursday:
As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty. The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
I hope that the people who see these images will know that this was real. It was as real as it gets. This may have played out as a television show, but this was not a television show. Officer Dick Donohue almost gave his life. Officer Sean Collier did give his life. These were real people, with real lives, with real families. And to have this cover dropped into Boston was hurtful to their memories and their families. I know from first-hand conversations that this Rolling Stone cover has kept many of them up — again. It’s irritated the wounds that will never heal — again. There is nothing glamorous in bringing more pain to a grieving family.
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