Rolling Stone backlash: Cop who released bomber pics relieved of duty

The outrage continues to build against Rolling Stone magazine for publishing what has been referred to as a “rock star image” of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on their cover. In the midst of drugstore and supermarket chains refusing to sell the issue, a Massachusetts State Police photographer made a bold decision.

Sgt. Sean Murphy released never-before-seen photographs he took the night Tsarnaev was captured to Boston Magazine. An excerpt of his statement explained his actions:

“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.

I hope that the people who see these images will know that this was real. It was as real as it gets. This may have played out as a television show, but this was not a television show. Officer Dick Donohue almost gave his life. Officer Sean Collier did give his life. These were real people, with real lives, with real families. And to have this cover dropped into Boston was hurtful to their memories and their families….

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


Boston bomber 1
Photo credit: Sgt. Sean Murphy/Boston Magazine
Boston bomber 2
Photo credit: Sgt. Sean Murphy/Boston Magazine

Boston Magazine reported that Murphy was relieved of duty just a few hours after turning over the photographs. Murphy has not been fired and his status is to be reviewed next week.

Earlier in the week, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote a letter to the publisher of Rolling Stone and said that the cover “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”

“The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories,” Menino wrote, “though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.”

Drugstore chain CVS was the first to announce that they would not sell this issue of Rolling Stone in their stores. Quick to follow was Tedeschi Foods, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, 7-11, and Kmart, according to Vibe.

In an effort to identify retailers who will not sell the magazine, the “Boycott Rolling Stone Magazine” Facebook page was initiated on Tuesday and has already garnered over 166,000 followers. BJ’s, Roche Bros Supermarkets, Stop & Shop, Rite Aid, Cumberland Farms, Wal-Mart, Giant Foods and Wegmans are just a few retailers listed on the site.


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