A Massachusetts State Police sergeant will be on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation over his unauthorized release of photos showing the hunt and capture of one of the Boston bombing suspects.
Boston magazine published the images Thursday, along with a story quoting Sgt. Sean Murphy.
The sergeant said that a recent cover on Rolling Stone was "an insult" to the victims of the April terror attack because, in his view, it didn't portray Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the right way.
Murphy was "furious" with the Rolling Stone cover photo of Tsarnaev, the Boston magazine story said, so the sergeant, a tactical photographer, provided the publication with grittier pictures from the harrowing hours after the bombing. These included an image of Tsarnaev during his capture with his face buried in his arm and what appears to be a red laser trained from afar on his head.
Hours after the Boston magazine story appeared online, Murphy was relieved of duty with pay for a day, and State Police spokesman David Procopio told reporters that a hearing Tuesday before three state police commissioned officers would determine the sergeant's status.
After the hearing Tuesday, attorney Leonard Kesten stood beside Murphy along with Dana Pullman, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts.
Pullman told reporters that Murphy had been placed on restricted duty, which he explained meant desk duty. Murphy is no longer a photographer, Procopio said.
Kesten said that after the internal investigation into the release of the image is complete, "terminating" Murphy "would be the wrong message to send to everyone."
There's little chance of that happening, according to Massachusetts State Police Superintendent Col. Timothy Alben who also spoke to reporters Tuesday.
"I don't see Sgt. Murphy being terminated for this particular set of circumstances," he said.
A 25-year veteran of the state police, Murphy had worked most recently in the agency's public information office, covering many major operations, Alben said.
The sergeant has been an "exemplary" employee with no disciplinary record. "There no blemish there," Alben continued. "He's a man of character. He's a man of honor."
Alben said he had no reason to doubt that Murphy was "motivated by his own conscious and his own feelings about what occurred."
Kesten said that Murphy's actions would not affect the prosecution of Tsarnaev. "The guy was captured live on TV -- helicopter shots," the lawyer said.
But Alben was firm.
"If we get into a situation where we allow employees to cherry-pick and to choose what confidential information can be shared with the public or the media, impeding investigations or prosecutions, then we've lost integrity of the Massachusetts State Police," he said.
The sergeant's teenage son also stepped in front of microphones to tell reporters that he was fully behind his father.
"My dad's kind of always been a huge hero to me, and throughout this process he's shown the characteristics that I hope to some day model myself after," Connor Patrick Murphy said. "If I could be one-fourth the man he is now, then I could be happy with my life. Couldn't be prouder."
Different images and portrayals
The Rolling Stone cover showed Tsarnaev with tousled hair and a peaceful-looking face.
An image Boston magazine said that Murphy provided showed the bombing suspect bloody, looking down, his shirt raised.
"This guy is evil," Murphy was quoted in the magazine. "This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine."
In the span of five days, more than 58,000 people have "liked" a Facebook page supporting Murphy, calling him a hero and lambasting the idea that his bosses would harshly discipline him.
A message about the outcome of the hearing Tuesday got more than 700 "likes" within a couple of hours.
"If the powers that be do the right thing, they'll give Sgt. Murphy a medal, a long weekend off with pay, a new camera, and an apology," Richard C. Martin posted on the Facebook page. His comment alone garnered 160 likes.