July 23, 2013

Trooper who leaked bombing suspect photo is on desk duty

The duties of Sgt. Sean Murphy, who has already served a one-day unpaid suspension, are restricted until an investigation is completed.

By Rodrique Ngowi / The Associated Press

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — A state police photographer who released photos of the bloodied Boston Marathon bombing suspect during his capture was placed on restricted duty Tuesday.

click image to enlarge

One of the images released by Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy shows 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, bloody and disheveled with the red dot of a sniper's rifle laser sight on his forehead, when he was arrested April 19.

The Associated Press

Sgt. Sean Murphy said he leaked the photos of what he called "the face of terror" to Boston magazine last week to counter a glamorized image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Three of Murphy's 14 photos show a battered Tsarnaev emerging from a boat in a backyard, blood streaked on his face and the red dot of a sniper's laser sight trained on his head.

Murphy wasn't authorized to release the photos, and he's already served a one-day, unpaid suspension. Following a status hearing at state police headquarters Tuesday, Murphy was placed on desk duty, where he won't have contact with the public, until a further investigation is completed, according to state police spokesman David Procopio.

The U.S. attorney's office called the release of the photos "completely unacceptable," and some attorneys said the images and Murphy's comments could be used to argue government bias against Tsarnaev.

Others said it was important to show the real Tsarnaev after the flattering cover shot, which showed a brooding Tsarnaev in a pose that recalled the magazine's treatment of Jim Morrison.

Murphy declined to comment Tuesday.

He had said in a statement to Boston magazine that the cover was an insult to police, military members and the families of anyone killed in the line of duty.

"This guy is evil," Murphy said. "This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine."

Rolling Stone said the cover story on Tsarnaev was part of its "long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day."

Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty in connection with the April 15 bombing that killed three and injured or maimed 260. He's also accused of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer while on the run three days later.

Tsarnaev escaped from police following a shootout in the Boston suburb of Watertown that day, during which he ran over his brother and alleged co-conspirator, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. His brother died of injuries suffered during the confrontation.

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