Cops Used Black Teen's Mugshot as Shooting Target

North Miami Beach police claim no wrongdoing
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2015 10:31 AM CST
Cops Used Black Teen's Mugshot as Shooting Target
In this photo taken Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, Saginaw Chief of Police Robert M. Ruth watches new officers shoot at the Saginaw Police Department range in Saginaw, Mich.   (AP Photo/The Saginaw News, Andrew Whitaker)

(Newser) – A Florida family is up in arms after stumbling upon the mugshots of five black men used as targets by North Miami Beach Police snipers. Sgt. Valerie Deant of the Florida National Guard arrived at a shooting range in Medley for her annual weapons qualifications training last month to discover her brother's mugshot among those riddled with bullet holes, NBC Miami reports. There was "one in my forehead and one in my eye," says Woody Deant, who was arrested 15 years ago in connection with a fatal drag race. "I was speechless." North Miami Beach's police chief says the snipers—minority officers among them—could've used better judgement, but "our policies were not violated" and images of white and Hispanic males are also used.

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He also says shooting at actual photographs is necessary for facial recognition training, though NBC Miami talked to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies with SWAT and sniper teams who say they only use commercially produced targets. The police chief says the department's main concern is that one of the targets was "someone that was on the streets of North Miami Beach." He notes the practice of using mugshots as targets will continue once the department adds to the number of images in its inventory so as to avoid such a misstep again. As for Woody Deant, he fears when he meets one of the officers on the street, "automatically in his mind he's going to think target, target, target." (Read more police stories.)

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