03/02/2012

La. sheriff sorry reporter's photo used for target practice

By PoliceOne Staff

NEW ORLEANS — A sheriff apologized for using a reporter's photo for target practice during a training class.

Fox 8 found a photograph of one of their journalists, Lee Zurik, pinned on a target by St. Bernard's Sheriff's deputies at a range near New Orleans, according to their report. They speculate deputies may have been unhappy with a voter-fraud investigation led by Zurik that alleged several Sheriff's office employees voted in an October election in areas they weren't residents.

Records show on some of the days Lee's picture was used during a firearms training class, a few officers attending were the same ones targeted in the voting controversy, but police say it wasn't malicious.

"I don't think there was anything sinister about it. I don't think it was meant to be a threat," Sheriff Jack Stephens, a 28-year police veteran, said.

The sheriff's office was not found to be in violation of the law or departmental policy. In the future, they will prohibit "celebrity" photos from target practice.

"Really, I want to apologize to Lee. I never intended to make him feel uneasy or uncomfortable about this or increase the state of anxiety he may already live in because of the nature of what he does," Stephens said. "I hope he accepts the apology of me and the department."

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