ATHOL, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) – A state trooper who released photos of suspected Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Boston Magazine has been transferred.
A spokesman for Mass. State Police said Sgt. Sean Murphy was transferred to Athol and assigned to an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.
Murphy was placed on restricted duty in July after releasing photos of a bloodied Tsarnaev surrendering in Watertown. Murphy said he leaked the photos of what he called "the face of terror" to Boston Magazine to counter a glamorized image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
Three of Murphy's 14 photos show a battered Tsarnaev emerging from a boat in a backyard, blood streaked on his face and the red dot of a sniper's laser sight trained on his head.
Murphy wasn't authorized to release the photos, and he served a one-day, unpaid suspension and was placed on desk duty before the transfer.
The U.S. attorney's office called the release of the photos "completely unacceptable," and some attorneys said the images and Murphy's comments could be used to argue government bias against Tsarnaev.
The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports that Athol selectman Susannah Whipps Lee had a company print signs, including one for the bridge over Route 2 that reads "Welcome to Athol, Sgt. Murphy."
Whipps Lee told the Telegram and Gazette she thought it was important to welcome Murphy to Athol. Another selectman told the paper he didn't like the appearance that troopers being posted in Athol is punishment and was proud to have Murphy in his community.
State police said that Murphy's transfer to Athol was just an extension of his transfer to the field and was not a demotion or punishment.
"Because the allegation he faces is germane to his former role in media relations, the department confiscated his department-issued photography equipment," said spokesman Dave Procopio. "He is under investigation for possibly violating departmental policy and regulations by releasing departmental material obtained in his media relations position without authorization."
Procopio said Murphy remains a sergeant and his pay and benefits were not affected. He said that Murphy can bid for a different shift when the new bid cycle comes around.
Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty in connection with the April 15 bombing that killed three and injured or maimed 260. He's also accused of killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier while on the run three days later. Tsarnaev escaped from police following a shootout in the Boston suburb of Watertown that day, during which he ran over his brother and alleged co-conspirator, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. His brother died of injuries suffered during the confrontation.
Note: More than 3,900 of the 4,800 respondents to a July 19 MyFoxBoston.com poll asking, "Should the Mass. State Police photographer who leaked the Tsarnaev pictures be punished for it?" answered "No."
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