BOSTON - A police photographer has reportedly been relieved of his duties after supplying a magazine with graphic images from the capture of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Sean Murphy released his images - which show a bloodied Tsarnaev - after being angered by the August cover of Rolling Stone magazine, which featured a softer portrait of the 19-year-old.
Tsarnaev's cover portrait glamorised "the face of terror", said Sgt Murphy. His photographs, released to Boston Magazine, show a bloody, dishevelled Tsarnaev with the red dot of a sniper's rifle laser sight on his forehead.
"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," said Sgt Murphy in a statement carried by the magazine. It published over a dozen of his pictures on its website on Thursday.
Sgt Murphy took the photos during the manhunt for Tsarnaev, the younger of two brothers accused of killing three people and wounding more than 260 at the Boston Marathon on April 15 by detonating two pressure-cooker bombs. His elder brother had been killed earlier in the hunt.
"These were real people, with real lives, with real families. And to have this cover... was hurtful to their memories and their families," Sgt Murphy said. "There is nothing glamorous in bringing more pain to a grieving family."
Within hours of the photos' release, he was "relieved of his duty", said Boston Magazine, adding that the status of his duty will be reviewed next week.
Massachusetts State Police declined to comment on whether Sgt Murphy had been suspended. He was not authorised to release those photos and state police will conduct an internal investigation, said spokesman David Procopio.
Boston officials also reacted angrily to the Rolling Stone's Tsarnaev portrait and headline: The bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.
Public outrage was swift and several retailers said they would not sell the issue. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, calling the cover "a total disgrace", wrote: "Your August... cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-conceived, at best, and re-affirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their 'causes'."
Rolling Stone said the cover story was part of its "longstanding commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day".
It also offered a brief statement offering condolences to bombing survivors and the loved ones of those killed.
An ethnic Chechen, Tsarnaev came to the United States as a child. He pleaded not guilty last week to all charges in a 30-count indictment and may face the death penalty if convicted.
REUTERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE