Why The New Photos Of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Might Do More Harm Than Good

A police photographer released shots of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's capture and arrest in protest at Rolling Stone's cover picture of the accused Boston bomber terrorist. He has since been suspended.

In response to Rolling Stone magazine's controversial cover featuring alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police, released photos of Tsarnaev's capture, along with a statement saying "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.”

Murphy has since been suspended, pending a full investigation. Apart from the legal implications of how the photographs might prejudice a fair trial, releasing the images could have the opposite effect of what Sgt. Murphy wanted.

If you thought that the Jim Morrison-esque photo of the teenager on the cover of Rolling Stone made him look iconic, it pales in comparison to these new photos, in which Tsarnaev is slumped on the pristine white, shroud-like cover of the boat he'd been hiding in.

His chest is bare, he looks exhausted, and on his forehead is the glowing red light of a sniper's bead. He looks as though he's a hero dying for a cause. He looks like someone a teenage girl could believe in. (Some already do.) The photo reminds one of the picture of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan that won Tim Hetherington the Press Photo of the Year in 2007.

How do you think the new photos have transformed Tsarnaev's image? Do they fulfill the the photographer's goals of reminding us that Tsarnaev is not a celebrity? Use our comments box to tell us your thoughts.

[Top image: Flickr user Rebecca Hildreth]

[Middle image: Boston Magazine]

[Bottom image: Flickr user daweiding]

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7 Comments

  • Greg

    By his deeds he has the morals of a cock roach. The picture is of heroic scale. It will be use for recruiting.

  • Tomara5

    Good for you SGT Sean Murphy, These terrorist don't need to be celebrated or understood They need to be looked for who and what they really are. Screw being politically correct. They don't just all of a sudden become terrorists. They live among us for years then turn on us at any moment because we look at them and try to accept them as American citizens. Just like the one in Florida. They lived amongst the people for years plotting and manipulating and planning and our stupid strange population wants to consider everyone else from a foreign countries feeling, do they consider ours, no they hate the way we live.. Whites, Blacks and Hispanics in this country treat each other worse than we do terrorists and foreigners. We destroy ourselves by the way we treat each other. Americans have become to accepting. Anyone from another country can come here and hide. We complain about the NSA maybe they over step some bounds but how do you track all these people from entering this country and committing these heinous acts of terror against Americans. Snowden isn't a American martyr he's a American traitor. He didn't help this country he put it at higher risk for more acts like these. I for one thank you Mr. Murphy. Although it wasn't as gory as the legs on the sidewalks or blood up the walls or the harrowing picture of this terrorists aftermath and the life's that they have scarred forever. You at least gave me some satisfaction of visioning the dot exploding and finishing the job. Instead this SOB is goanna rub it in. Rolling Stone Make this a front cover shot. Until you do my dime will never be spent on another Magazine. Think of what this guy (SGT. Sean Murphy) had to see and endure through this Boston bombing. I can truly understand his actions. Our US freedom of our press to report half ass facts and half truths for ratings is a big cause for people never finding out the true facts or the whole story. My USA hat goes off to you Mr. Murphy 

  • Josh Childs

    I think you're completely right. The only thing more powerful than making someone look like a teen idol is making them look like a martyr. We have to get control of ourselves and our obsession with making this guy "look evil" or dangerous. His actions speak louder than any images will, and people know that.