Police admit using photos of real people for sniper practice after woman sees bullet-riddled photo of brother

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(CNN) — 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.


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.

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  • jennifer

    People really do need to get a life. We are becoming a nation of wimps and a nation of whiners – this is merely the latest example.

  • Derek

    Using real mugshots proves to me police are stupid.
    Anyone who carries a gun to work and could die any day and who industry ie law enforcement has the highest divorce rate is an idiot.
    Oh hey police by the way when i need help i am going to call you. Better you die than me.
    One more thing i respect you. I did not just say that so you would continue to be a policeman. Um society looks up to you and all that other garbage.
    Anyone who carries a gun to work is not brave but an idiot.
    I sit behind a desk and my pay is 44.17 per hour. How does that make you feel.

      • Derek

        Not a coward just smart
        They are trained not me.
        Hopefully Obama gives them more military surplus items so they can take away your rights.
        Will you support them then.

    • Amanda

      Wow…that is so messed up. You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being…you obviously lack much intelligence to think or even say something that stupid. There are bad cops just like there are bad teachers,doctors..there is bad in every field…we are human and humans do make mistakes. I will also say that with what you make,you do whatever you do that requires very little bravery or courage…. And you WOULD call the cops because you are weak.

    • Tseng

      And yet i’m sure if someone broke into your house the first thing you would do is be reaching for that phone to call said idiots that carry a gun to work in order to protect your sorry ass.

  • Derek

    You are highly intelligent.
    people support the police now but will they support the police when the police departments are rolling down the street in military surplus vehicles.
    Glad we have a liberal as president screwing over the constitution.
    Its time to destroy police and the military and the conservative culture ( legally )
    Every year our country becomes more liberal.
    Liberal police officers would not use pictures only conservative police officers.
    We need body cameras on police officers as THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED.

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