MIAMI, Fla. - A Miami-area police department responded on Friday to public outrage over its snipers using photos of black suspects the agency had previously arrested for target practice, saying that photos of real people were often used for training.
The use of the mugshots was revealed to police leaders in late December after members of the Florida Army National Guard discovered the photos at a shooting range during their annual weapons qualifications training, according to the North Miami Beach Police Department and a Miami NBC affiliate.
"This is not a race issue. There was no mal-intent or prejudice involved," a police statement said.
The department said the mugshots were those of suspects arrested more than a decade ago, and that photos of real people were often used during sniper training to simulate real life.
Woody Deant, whose mugshot from 15 years ago was among those used, was shocked to learn that police were using a picture of his face for target practice, according to broadcaster NBC 6.
"The picture actually has like bullet holes," Deant told NBC 6. "One in my forehead and one in my eye."
"I was speechless," he said.
North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis said in a statement sniper training was suspended and an investigation was launched two hours after he learned of the incident on Dec. 22. No disciplinary action will be taken, he said.