North Miami Beach Cops Shoot At Mugshots of Black Teens

Valerie Deant, a sergeant with the Florida Army National Guard, was at a shooting range with some of her colleagues for annual weapons training, according to WTVJ-TV, when she noticed the targets that some North Miami Beach police snipers had used earlier in the day.

The officers were shooting at mugshots of African-American men, some of them teenagers. One of them was of her brother, Woody Deant. The images, all of people arrested by that police department, were marked throughout with bullet holes.

"I was like, 'Why is my brother being used for target practice?'" Valerie Deant said to WTVJ-TV, admitting that she had "cried a couple of times."

A good question. Her brother had been arrested in 2000 in connection with a drag race that resulted in the death of two people.

"The picture actually has like bullet holes," Woody Deant said to WTVJ-TV. "One in my forehead and one in my eye. ... I was speechless."

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The brother had spent four years in prison after that drag race. "Now I'm being used as a target?" he said. "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 nine to five."

North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis said that the department has a variety of pictures for target practice, including whites and Hispanics, and said that the scene Deant witnessed was not evidence of racial profiling. Dennis also defended the use of mugshots as important for facial recognition. However, the chief did say that the department should not use images of people arrested by his department.

For the time being, Dennis said that the department would stop using human images until it expanded the number available, would not use those of people the officers had arrested, and would remove targets after using a shooting range.

It's cold comfort for Woody Deant, who thinks that police officers will "automatically ... think target, target, target."
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