Boston Magazine released dramatic photos of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Thursday night after state police tactical photographer Sergeant Sean P. Murphy gave them to the magazine.
Murphy did so in response to Rolling Stone’s controversial cover of Tsarnaev, which some say gave him rockstar treatment.
Murphy, who distributed photos without permission from Massachusetts State Police, told Boston Magazine the photos show “the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.” He called the cover an “insult” to anyone who has worn a uniform and to those who have lost a loved one in the line of duty:
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. The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
Murphy has since been relieved of duty, Boston Magazine reports. David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said in a statement “the department will not release the photographs to media outlets.” But many news organizations, including The Huffington Post and CNN, have already republished the photos. As of Friday morning, Rolling Stone had not responded to the news.
CNN talked with Boston Magazine Editor-in-Chief John Wolfson about the photos:
[Wolfson] 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.”
Boston Magazine’s website had trouble handling all the traffic Thursday night.
Sorry for the delays with the site. 30,000 connection attempts per second and the servers, even with double the power, are overloaded
— John Wolfson (@johnwolfson) July 19, 2013
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple highlighted the attention the photos have gotten and made an interesting point in his piece, “Both Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs are real“:
There’s no questioning the purity of Murphy’s motives. His statement reflects a sense of duty and a loyalty to those afflicted by the Boston bombings.
Yet his view of reality appears limited. In professing that his photos captured something “real,” he is suggesting that the image on the cover of Rolling Stone represents something less than “real” — that the Tsarnaev that looks at us from the magazine cover is somehow fake or artificial. Only it is not. That is a version of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that’s just as real as the weary, bloody version that we see in the police photos. It’s merely taken at a different point in his life. No amount of gory manhunt photography will undo the fact that Tsarnaev was once, by all accounts, a gregarious and well-adjusted part of our society. Rolling Stone set out to tell that story.
He goes on to ask: “If the goal in the mind of the terrorist madman is to gain public fame, isn’t all publicity good publicity?”