Woman catches officers using mugshots of criminals for target practice, one was her brother

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NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – You go for some target practice, look down the firing range and see at the other end that one of the targets is your brother, an old photo of him.

National Guardswoman Valerie Deant was devastated to see her brother Woody’s image pierced by police sniper bullets, she told NBC6 in an exclusive report.

But his photo wasn’t the only one of an African-American being used for target practice last November.

There were six bullet-riddled mugshots of black males at the range.

Racism?

No, says North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis.

Two of his snipers were using them for target practice, one of them is Hispanic and the other a black male of Haitian descent.

Their target, a row of black men, which the snipers left behind at the stand, was one of many.

There are also groups of white males, Hispanic males and white women.

Picking the target carefully 

There are 22 images in all, including a white man holding a gun to a white woman’s head and one of now-dead al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

“The same target inventory has been used for more than a decade,” Dennis said in a statement.

The idea is to have an array of photos with faces that look similar, so the sniper can practice exactly picking out the right target and avoid killing the wrong person in a real-life situation, Dennis said.

The department uses mugshots of people they arrested 10 to 15 years ago and Woody Deant was one of them.

Deant told NBC6 that he was booked after a deadly drag race.

He has walked the straight and narrow ever since, he said.

“I can sympathize with the family discovering their brother’s photo on the target,” Dennis said.

Dennis became aware of the family being upset in late December and ordered an investigation.

It turned up no violations of law or department policy.

But things will change.

“We realize how important this issue is during today’s climate,” Dennis said.

Snipers will no longer use mugshots of people they have arrested, but instead will buy practice pictures from commercial vendors.

And they are instructed from now on to destroy their targets after they’re done.

4 comments

  • BOB

    Don’t get arrested and get a mug shot and you don’t have to worry about having the picture used for target practice.

  • Matt

    It’s a paper target. Who freaking cares? Now someone is going to scream racism to the max because there weren’t any white boys on the target. Trust me, there’s plenty white folks that can be put on targets as well. Heck, I think it would be great if the police put their pics on the targets and sent a few rounds down range as well. Everyone needs to get over this whole deal and get a life. It’s always blah, blah, blah from the minorities about every freaking thing anymore. That must come from having a half black guy in the WH.

    • miles (dave)

      there were whites and other races too being used as targets too, it said so in the story. and to be honest if it were a common practice to use just black mug shots than that would be a concern for me too. but after hearing that its not a race issue it dosnt bother me.

      also if they were using mug shots of people the officers knew that would be a bad deal too. its bad enough if the officer has something personal against someone (dont get me wrong i can see why a officer may have a good reason to not like dealing with someone) but to take it a step further and pretend to shoot that person then that officers actions will get only less professional when he works with that person.

  • justme

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with this. The police are utilizing what is at their disposal and are not discriminating against any particular race or gender. The police force having to buy targets will only increase operating costs.

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