The Massachusetts state police officer who leaked photos of the accused Boston marathon bomber has been placed on restricted duty pending the results of an internal investigation.
Sergeant Sean Murphy appeared before a disciplinary hearing at state police headquarters in Framingham on Tuesday morning. He will remain on restricted duty, or “desk duty”, until a full internal investigation is complete, the local CBS news channel reported.
After the hearing, Murphy’s son, 19-year-old Connor Murphy, told reporters he “couldn’t be prouder” of his father.
“I support him 100%,” he said.
Sean Murphy was unauthorised to speak to the press, his lawyer said. On the way into the hearing he told reporters: “Life is good”.
The closed hearing took place at 11am ET on Tuesday before a three-person panel which had the power to suspend Murphy while the investigation into his conduct proceeds.
The officer leaked a series of images to Boston magazine last week. He told the magazine that the image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that Rolling Stone used for its front cover, criticised by some as glamorising the bombing suspect, 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”.
One of the images Murphy released shows a bloodied Tsarnaev sitting upright on the edge of the boat where he had lain hidden as police searched for him. The red spotlight of a sniper’s laser is shown on the 19-year-old’s forehead. Other images show the alleged bomber receiving treatment after being taken into custody.
“This guy is evil,” Murphy told Boston magazine. “This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill.
Murphy has already served a one-day unpaid suspension for releasing the images. He has won support in some circles, with a Facebook page called “Save Sgt Sean Murphy” receiving almost 60,000 likes.
On Monday, the family of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was killed during the manhunt for Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, released a statement expressing support for Murphy.
“We believe that Sergeant Murphy’s motives were selfless when he released the photos, taken the night after our son and brother was murdered and the terrorist was apprehended,” Collier’s family told Boston magazine.
“In our opinion, he has been sufficiently punished. Sergeant Murphy wanted to right what he and many in Boston and around the country saw as a wrong, and to counter the aggrandizement of terrorism by Rolling Stone magazine.”
Rolling Stone issued a statement last week defending the Tsarnaev cover, which appears on the 1 August issue of the magazine.
“The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day,” it said.