North Miami Police Used Mug Shots of African-Americans Men for Target Practice
Police in North Miami have been using mug shots of African-Americans for target practice, as the sister of one of the men pictured found to her horror when she was at the range.
Valerie Deant, a sergeant in Florida’s National Guard, went to the Medley Police Firearms Training Center for her annual weapons certification when she noticed a familiar face on one of the targets riddled with bullets: her brother, Woody. Woody Deant served four years in prison last decade for taking part in a fatal drag race, but has since has gotten his life together. He was 18 when the booking photo was taken 15 years ago.
His sister couldn’t believe what she saw. “I was like ‘Why is my brother being used for target practice?’” Deant asked NBC 6. She said she later cried over the realization.
The police department claimed its use of the images did not constitute racial profiling, that no rules were broken in using the mug shots and that no one would be punished for it.
“Now I’m being used as a target?” Woody Deant said. “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. I work 9-to-5.”
Other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies contacted by NBC 6 told reporters that they use only commercially-produced targets, not photos of human beings for target practice.
“The use of those targets doesn’t seem correct,” Alex Vasquez, a retired FBI agent, told the station. “The police have different options for targets. I think the police have to be extra careful and sensitive to some issues that might be raised.”
North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis denied his department was engaged in racial profiling and said it will resume use of human image targets after it expands the number of images in its inventory. Dennis also said officers will remove the targets after they use the shooting range, according to NBC 6.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
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Family Outraged After North Miami Beach Police Use Mug Shots as Shooting Targets (by Mc Nelly Torres and Willard Shepard, NBC 6 South Florida)
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