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Police sergeant on desk duty during probe over Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev images

CNN News Wire | 7/23/2013, 12:49 p.m.
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during his capture and what appears to be a red laser trained from afar on his head. Sgt. Sean Murphy

“If the powers that be do the right thing, they’ll give Sgt. Murphy a medal, a long weekend off with pay, a new camera, and an apology,” Richard C. Martin posted on the Facebook page. His comment alone garnered 160 likes.

“I support Sgt. Murphy for standing up for the victims,” posted John W. Patterson, calling him “a true hero for doing what he thinks is right.”

But there were a few people who understood why the trooper is in trouble.

Darin Vance, a 16-year-old from West Virginia, posted, “I hate to see him lose his job, but what he did really was illegal; those pictures were not his, since he took them for his employer. Therefore, legally speaking, he stole the picture, and published it. I guess it depends how his contract was set up, but I think all copyrights would have been given over to the state.”

Vance reiterated his support for the trooper to CNN on Monday and said he worried the Rolling Stone cover might inspire someone to commit an act of terror hoping to land on the front of a legendary magazine.

Page organizer surprised

On Monday, CNN reached a woman who said she was the organizer of the page but would only give a first name — Lisa. She said she felt compelled to create the page because her father was a Massachusetts State Police trooper.

“I thought this page would only be popular among my friends, but I’m getting private messages from people across the country, in Germany and in England, all over, who believe this trooper did the right thing,” she said. “I was so angry when I heard that Sgt. Murphy was going to suffer for trying to stand up for victims.”

Before quoting Murphy in several long passages, Boston magazine wrote: “Here, in his own words, Murphy shares his thoughts on the Rolling Stone cover. He stresses that he is speaking strictly for himself and not as a representative of the Massachusetts State Police.”

John Wolfson, Boston magazine’s editor-in-chief, said the magazine has hundreds of photos similar to the ones Murphy provided and will publish more in its September issue.

He said Murphy was “conflicted on some level” about releasing the photos but “genuinely worried” about how the Rolling Stone cover will affect the victims’ families.

The Rolling Stone cover unleashed a wave of intense reaction on social media that played out in brick-and-mortar stores. Three prominent New England-based businesses — CVS pharmacies, Stop & Shop and Tedeschi Food Shops — were among those that heard the public outcry and announced they would not sell the print edition of the magazine.

Some have defended the cover, arguing it draws much needed attention to a young man who seemed an unlikely terrorist. Rolling Stone issued a statement saying the story “falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage.”

“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers,” the statement read, “makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.”

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in connection with bombings and is awaiting trial. His brother Tamerlan, suspected to have helped carry out the attack, was killed during a gunbattle with police.

CNN’s Lawrence Crook contributed to this report.

Ashley Fantz | CNN