If you were angered by Rolling Stone's cover featuring accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, you're not alone. Massachusetts state police officer Sgt. Sean Murphy was so outraged, he sent in his own photos of Tsarnaev's capture to Boston Magazine. Murphy's photos show Dzhokhar emerging from the boat he had hidden in during the manhunt. His face is bloody, and in a few photos, you can see a sniper's red light. He looks exhausted and defeated -- a far cry from the rock star photo in Rolling Stone. But it looks like releasing these photos may have gotten Murphy into trouble.
In a statement to Boston Magazine, the 25-year police veteran said:
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.
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.
Did Murphy go too far in sending these photos? This morning Boston Magazine announced in a blog post that Sgt. Murphy had been relieved of duty. Keep in mind -- Murphy has not been fired. His status will be reviewed next week, and he has been ordered not to speak with the press.
The thing is, Rolling Stone was trying to do the same thing Sgt. Murphy was -- demonstrating that "this was real." Rolling Stone's editorial staff defended their cover, saying that Dzhokhar's ordinary young man look was exactly the point -- his actions were monstrous, but he was not a monster. "The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens."
Murphy sent Boston Magazine hundreds of behind-the-scenes photographs of the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers -- and if I had been in charge of that hunt, those photos would make me nervous. I can see why they relieved Murphy of his duty, even if just temporarily. There are legal implications, many other people involved, even security issues ... it seems reckless of Murphy.
I understand where Murphy is coming from -- that Rolling Stone cover was provocative. He saw Tsarnaev quite differently, and wants us to see his perspective. I think we should see some of these photos. I just think Murphy could have gone about releasing the photos a different way.
Do you think Sgt. Murphy overstepped in sending out photos of Tsarnaev's arrest?
Image via CNN