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Florida Cops Caught Using Real Mug Shots of Black Men as Gun Range Targets

A Florida National Guardswoman made the discovery after Miami Beach Police left the targets following a practice session. She then noticed one photo was of her brother.
Photo by Corwin Deckard/Flickr

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A Florida police department's target practice methods are coming into question after it was discovered officers were using actual mug shots of suspects as targets at a shooting range, including one photo lineup of all African American men.

Florida National Guard Sergeant Valerie Deant and her fellow guardsmen made the discovery after attending a shooting range in December. The team found six bullet-riddled mug shots left by the North Miami Beach police department after an earlier practice session. All the images were of black suspects, according to NBC South Florida, which broke the story Thursday.

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Deant then noticed one of the photos was of her brother, Woody Deant, taken from a booking shot photographed more than a decade ago when he was 18-years-old. She relayed the information to her sibling, who was angered by the news.

"Now I'm being used as a target?" Woody Deant told the NBC affiliate. "I'm not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I'm a father. I'm a husband. I'm a career man. I work 9 to 5."

North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis told the station that while the cops could have exercised better judgment, none of the department's policies were violated and the officers would not be disciplined.

According to Dennis, the sniper team in question uses an "array of pictures" for target practice, including of white, black, and Hispanic men. He said there were minority cops on the team who had been at the shooting range that day and that using real life mugshots was crucial for certain drills. Dennis did express concern, however, that one of the photos used was of an individual who had been booked by their police department.

Dennis said that the department will continue using real mug shots once they expand their database of pictures, and will no longer use images from suspects they have arrested.

Photo via Flickr