Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy was placed on restricted duty today, after he released photos of the capture of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to a magazine in protest of the recent Rolling Stone cover.
From Boston Magazine:
Sgt. Sean P. Murphy, the 25-year veteran of the Massachusetts State Police who gave Boston magazine hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev manhunt, has been placed on restricted duty pending an investigation, the result of a hearing earlier today at the state police headquarters in Framingham.
Asked whether Murphy would be fired, State Police Colonel Timothy Alben was pretty clear: “I’m the colonel of the Massachusetts State Police, and I’m going to say it’s not a realistic option.” Alben went on to call Murphy’s actions “disappointing” based on his “blemish”-free record during his time serving with the department.
“Sean has been an exemplary employee here. He’s a man of character, he’s a man of honor, and has given a great deal to this organization…[But] we cannot afford to let pretrial publicity impede this prosecution or any others we are involved in,” said Alben. “And no one should be making decisions unilaterally about what information should be shared, and what should not.”
There were concerns from some that the release of Murphy’s photos could have an impact on the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. From Boston.com:
Rosanna Cavallaro, a professor at Suffolk University Law School, said the leak 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, she said, these particular photos will not transform the case, since there are already concerns about whether Tsarnaev can get a fair trial anywhere, let alone in Boston.
Murphy’s attorney however said he didn’t believe the photos would affect the investigation or trial, according to Boston Magazine.
But his attorney, Leonard Kesten, addressed the media afterward and said the notion that releasing the photos would impact the investigation is “preposterous,” adding that the general public has already seen video and live footage from Tsarnaev’s arrest. “It’s not going to affect the trial. Sergeant Murphy wouldn’t have done anything to damage the prosecution of [Tsarnaev].”
Murphy’s 19 year old son told reporters that he supports his dad’s decision, saying, “Throughout this process, he has shown the characteristics that I hope to someday model myself after. If I could be one-fourth of the man he is now, I’ll be more than happy with my life. I will support him 100 percent. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
The family of slain MIT police officer Sean Collier has also spoken out in support of Murphy.
A number of petitions and Facebook pages have popped up in support of Sgt. Murphy, including a Facebook page titled Save Sgt. Sean Murphy Rolling Stone True Pictures, which had over 62,000 “likes” at the time of this writing.
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