Sergeant faces suspension for sending photos

Last updated 06:15 20/07/2013

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A state police sergeant who released striking photos of the capture of the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings faces a hearing to determine if he will be suspended until an internal investigation is complete.

Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said the agency didn't authorise Sgt Sean Murphy to release the photos to Boston Magazine and won't release them to other media.

Murphy told Boston Magazine he released the photos because he was furious over a Rolling Stone cover photo he believes glamorises suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He said his photos show "the real Boston bomber, not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine." The music magazine hits the shelves this week, and some retailers have said they won't sell it.

Procopio said today that Murphy has been relieved of duty for one day and there will be a hearing to decide if he will be suspended until the internal investigation is complete. He did not say when the hearing will be.

Murphy has not returned calls from The Associated Press. No one answered the door today at the blue cottage along the coast in Biddeford, Maine, where neighbours said he spends weekends. Someone started a "Save Sgt Sean Murphy" Facebook page that had hundreds of "likes" in just a few hours.

"The release of these photos was completely unacceptable," said Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who is prosecuting the case. "We have spoken with the Massachusetts State Police, who have assured us that the release of the photos was unauthorized and that they are taking action internally in response."

Governor Deval Patrick appeared reticent on the issue today as he walked quickly back to his office after an event in the Statehouse.

"Talk to the state police, they violated the rules when they did it," he said in response to a question from a reporter.

Asked if he was concerned the release of the photos would compromise the investigation of Tsarnaev, Patrick again referred questions to the state police.

An aide to the governor later said Patrick was only referring to the individual officer who released the photos, not any other members of the state police.

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