Police in North Miami, Florida, are coming under much criticism for using the mugshots of black criminals as target practice. Now, they’re not only admitting to their strange and deplorable actions, but they are also defending the things they’ve done after they were found out by a National Guard soldier.
The New York Daily News reported that Sgt. Valerie Deant, who plays clarinet in the National Guard’s 13th Army Band, broke down in tears at a gun range last month. She was there with fellow soldiers and saw a piece of paper with different mugshots on it and bullet holes riddled through them.
One of those mugshots was her brother, then-18-year-old Woody Deant. After seeing it, she placed a call to him.
“She said, ‘Oh my God they used you as target practice,'” he recalled that emotional phone call to NBC News.
That mugshot of Deant was taken 15 years ago after he was arrested for drag racing, according to USA Today. Deant served four years behind bars, and that drag race left two people dead. He says he has changed his life around and is nothing like the person in that mugshot.
“I’m not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man.”
North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis did admit that his officers use the mugshots as target practice regularly, and said they could have used better judgment. Still, he defended their actions and said there would be no punishment.
“Our policies were not violated. There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals who were involved with this.”
Dennis said that all of the mugshot photos should have been removed after target practice, and that photos of those arrested by the department should not have been used. He did say that photos of real people are needed for drills in facial recognition.
Sgt. Deant says she has “cried a couple of times” throughout this entire incident, and they have heard the explanation of Dennis and the police department, but it isn’t enough. The Deant family is hiring an attorney to further pursue action.
The Miami Police Chief also said that the use of mugshots of all African-American men was nothing more than random selection. He says they do not discriminate, and use all kinds of photos of people of all sex and races.
[Image via WTVJ-TV]