One Massachusetts State Police officer is speaking out in angry opposition to Rolling Stone’s glamorization of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

And he’s doing so through photos.


Photo credit: Sean Murphy. Published at

From Boston Magazine:

Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police who has photographed the funerals of many officers killed in the line of duty, is furious with the magazine [Rolling Stone]. Murphy, who also acts a liaison to the families of fallen officers, is so angered by the cover—which he says is both dangerous and insulting to the victims of the bombings—that he feels the need to counter the message that it conveys.

We all remember the day of the manhunt, when Governor Patrick and law enforcement officials decided, in essence, to shut Boston down. Throughout it all, Murphy, alone in his assignment behind police lines, was capturing images of the day’s events—the high-level conferences, the mobilization of law enforcement, and the dramatic capture. Because the whole thing was televised live, everyone knows that the day ended with a wounded Tsarnaev being taken into custody. What few people have seen, because Murphy’s photos from that day have never been made public before, is the condition Tsarnaev was in at the time of his capture—and, indeed, exactly how he was captured. Murphy wants the world to know that the Tsarnaev in the photos he took that night—defeated and barely alive, with the red dots of sniper rifles lighting up his forehead—is the real face of terrorism, not the handsome, confident young man shown on the magazine cover.

Sgt. Murphy says he’s speaking strictly for himself and not on behalf of the Massachusetts State Police.  But he had some heartfelt words for Boston Magazine about the night the Tsarnaev brothers were hunted down and captured, reminding the public that April 19th “was as real as it gets.”

And with Murphy’s background, he’s seen a lot. Including a lot of pain.  Of the Rolling Stone cover, he described its impact on still grieving families’ wounds.   “There is nothing glamorous in bringing more pain to a grieving family,” he said.

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

The editor of Boston Magazine explained to CNN that Sgt. Murphy struggled with the decision to release the photos but had real concerns about the negative impacts of Rolling Stone’s cover.

John Wolfson, Boston Magazine’s editor in chief, said the magazine has hundreds of similar photos and will publish more in its September issue. He said Murphy was “conflicted on some level” about releasing the photos, but “genuinely worried” about how the Rolling Stone cover will affect the victims’ families.

“I think he was also worried that certain impressionable people might be lured to replicate that by the kind of glamorous-looking photo that is on the Rolling Stone cover,” Wolfson told CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

Since the release of the photos though, Murphy is said to have been relieved of his duties pending a review, according to CNN (via WTVR).

Sgt. Sean Murphy told CNN’s Anne Clifford Thursday night that he is on leave and has a hearing next week. Earlier Thursday, a police spokesman said the agency had not authorized the release of photos Murphy took.

Read the whole article at Boston Magazine and check out all of Sgt. Murphy’s photos of “the real Boston bomber.”


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