Thousands of supporters have joined a campaign to save the job of a Massachusetts State Police Officer who released crime-scene photos of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer, was “relieved of duty,” but not fired on Thursday after having shared never-before-seen images with Boston Magazine of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a decision his supporters think should be reversed. Murphy said he was incited to unveil the photos of the bloodied suspect on the night he was captured in response to the controversial Rolling Stone Magazine cover that some say treats Tsarnaev like a rock star.
“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,” Murphy said in a statement.
While Murphy has been instructed not to speak to the media, his hoards of supporters are crying out on his behalf. As of press time, nearly 50,000 people had joined a Facebook petition pushing for Murphy to be able to keep his job. The campaign states that Murphy simply did what “most of us would have liked to do or would have done had we had the same resources.”
The Massachusetts officer has also received an outpouring of support from people who were directly devastated by the Boston Marathon bombing.
The family of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer allegedly killed by the bombing suspects, called Murphy's actions "selfless" in a statement of support for the officer on Monday.
Sgt. 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. Terrorists are not rock stars and they should not be rewarded with fame and magazine covers. The real heroes are the law enforcement officers, first responders, and victims of this terror. It is they who should be honored.
But Murphy has also gotten a fair share of backlash, too.
The office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, who is prosecuting Tsarnaev in federal court, called Murphy’s actions “completely unacceptable,” according to the Boston Globe. Some legal experts have said that the released photos could jeopardize the case.
But getting the general public behind his case may be the very thing Murphy needs to save his job.
“It shows the public is sympathetic for what he did,” Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University communications professor, told the Boston Herald. “It can put pressure on public officials to basically cut him some slack.”
Learn more about the "Save Sgt. Murphy" campaign here.