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State cop who released photos of Boston Marathon bomber under probe

BOSTON (Reuters) - A police photographer who released photos of the arrest of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in reaction to a magazine cover that he said glorified the suspect has been placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation, state police said on Tuesday.

Sergeant Sean Murphy was placed on administrative leave, stripped of his badge and gun, and transferred to a different unit within the state police following a disciplinary hearing, the Massachusetts State Police said in a statement.

Murphy last week released photos to Boston Magazine that showed the surrender of a bruised Tsarnaev, who was found hiding in a boat in a backyard outside Boston after a day-long manhunt that locked down most of the metropolitan area.

He said the release was in response to a Rolling Stone magazine cover that featured a photo of a younger, relaxed Tsarnaev with the headline, "The bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster."

Murphy will remain on leave while an investigation determines whether he violated department rules, police spokesman Dave Procopio said, adding that the probe "is expected to take several weeks to complete at a minimum."

Murphy is unlikely to lose his job, Colonel Timothy Allen told reporters.

Massachusetts officials including Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had reacted with outrage to the Rolling Stone cover, which they said appeared to glorify the bomber, largely because the magazine is known for featuring music legends on its front page.

Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of killing three people and injuring more than 260 with a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs set off at the finish line of the marathon on April 15. After three days in hiding, Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, attempted to flee the city on the night of April 18 after the FBI released photos of the pair near the scene of the bombing.

According to prosecutors, the two brothers killed a fourth person, a university police officer whose gun they attempted to steal, and then engaged in a gun battle with police in the suburb of Watertown, which ended when the younger Tsarnaev ran over his brother in the car he was driving, contributing to his death, and briefly escaped police.

Tsarnaev faces the possibility of execution if convicted on charges related to the worst mass-casualty attack carried out on U.S. soil since 9/11.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Greg McCune and Leslie Adler)

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