Massachusetts cop leaks surrender photos of Tsarnaev to counter Rolling Stone cover

posted at 10:51 am on July 19, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

I actually had the thought after seeing the “Rolling Stone” cover that I wished we had a more undignified shot of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to counter the teen dream image most of the available photos cultivate. I wondered how dreamy he’d be with a wound in his jaw, whimpering in a boat, or running over his brother. Yeah, I’m in no danger of being picked for the jury, probably.

Now we know.

The backlash over Rolling Stone’s cover photo of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev led to the release of new photos of his capture Thursday, images a police photographer said show “the real Boston bomber.”

In contrast to the tousle-haired, placid-looking 19-year-old on the front of the magazine, the new pictures show Tsarnaev emerging from the boat where he was cornered — his face smeared with blood, his skin ashen in the laser glow from snipers’ gun sights.

In one, he pulls up his shirt, apparently showing he has no weapon underneath; in another, he slumps across the deck of the trailered boat, his bloodied arm hanging down.

The pictures were taken by Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy and published online by Boston Magazine on Thursday afternoon.

In a statement accompanying the photos, Murphy called the Rolling Stone cover “an insult” and “hurtful” to survivors of the April 15 bombings.

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

I admire this act of civil and professional disobedience by Murphy, though I don’t have the legal chops to know if it could be dangerous to Tsarnaev’s conviction if the pictures were intended as evidence at trial. They seem like the kind of pictures that might routinely be released or leaked to press in the wake of a man hunt, right?

Boston Magazine has all the photos, here.

A member of the prosecution team did respond to the leak:

A spokeswoman for US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, whose staff is prosecuting Tsarnaev, said State Police have indicated they will be “taking action” in response to the leak.

“The release of these photos was completely unacceptable,” spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said in a statement.

A law professor t told The Boston Globe it “will exacerbate what is already a major problem: how to empanel a jury that has not seen or formed judgments about the case based on media coverage and photos,” but likely wouldn’t “transform” the case because it’s so universally known to begin with.

I just like having the pictures available as a counter to his glamour shots, and wish these were the more familiar images of him. Why didn’t we get a mug shot of him as soon as he was done being treated and booked in the traditional way? On the other hand, his groupies will love a martyr photo or two, and I’m resolutely ignoring what I’m sure is out there, which is perverse squealing over the picture with his shirt lifted. Ugh, get it together, tweens.

Murphy will have to take his lumps. He’s been suspended for a day and faces an internal investigation, which may affect his standing with the police. But police discipline being what it is, what are the chances he gets severely punished for this?

“Today’s dissemination to Boston Magazine of photographs of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev and police activity related to his capture was not authorized by the Massachusetts State Police,” spokesman David Procopio said in a statement issued Thursday night. “The department will not release the photographs to media outlets. The State Police will have no further comment on this matter tonight.”

Procopio told CNN late Thursday night that Murphy had been relieved of duty for one day and will have a status hearing to determine whether he will be on full duty, restricted duty or suspended during an internal police investigation.

The hearing will likely be next week, Procopio said.

Of course, maybe we didn’t need these pictures after all. Thank you, court room illustrator! Let’s put that on a cover.

Boston Marathon Bombing

And, let’s finish with two different takes on the “Rolling Stone” cover from two women I respect.

And, Rachel Sklar says to the downplayers, “No, that Rolling Stone cover is not brave, stereotype-busting journalism.”


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Comment pages: 1 2

S.E. Cupp is worth respecting because…?

SirGawain on July 19, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Not sure if its a matter of respect. But I never understood her Conservative creds. She seems more an “edgy” liberal to me.

hawkdriver on July 21, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Comment pages: 1 2