Photo of crying suspect posted online by Fla. sheriff’s office draws criticism

Critics are concerned that posting a photo when a suspect is caught, but not convicted, could create problems later


By PoliceOne Staff

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is facing criticism after posting a photo of a suspect being arrested. 

Marquis Porter was arrested Friday after allegedly intentionally running a deputy off the road and holding 9.5 grams of meth, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The office then posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter of Porter crying with two deputies holding his hair back. The office told the publication they do this with every suspect as a part of growing their social media following. 

"This criminal is not different than any criminal we post about every single day," spokeswoman Melanie Snow said. "He was a threat to the community before. It's important the community know he is in custody and no longer a threat to them."

Critics are concerned that if a person is caught, but not yet convicted, the posts could  cause issues later.

Attorney Steve Romine said the post could affect Porter’s case. He said no matter the evidence, he is innocent until proven guilty after a trial. He also told the publication that if the charges are dropped, Porter could sue for libel. 

Retired police chief John DeCarlo said that his department treated social media like press releases given to the media.

"Just because social media is organic doesn't mean it should be any less structured, vetted and professional," he said. "I wouldn't have posted a picture like that. That would still be in the case file."

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