National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant and her fellow soldiers went last month to a firing range in Medley, Fla. What they saw there made them angry. Not only had North Miami Beach Police snipers who had used the range before them used mug shots of six African-American men as targets, but one of the men pictured was Deant's brother. The mug shots were riddled with bullets.
"I was like, 'Why is my brother being used for target practice?' " Deant told NBC6, which first reported this story on Thursday.
The mug shot of Woody Deant, her brother, was taken 15 years earlier. She said it had bullet holes in the forehead and an eye.
Woody Deant had been arrested in connection with a drag race in 2000 that left two people dead; he spent four years in prison.
"I'm not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as," Woody Deant told the NBC6. "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 acknowledged that his officers, who had selected the targets, could have used better judgment. But he denied racial profiling was at play, noting that the sniper team included minority officers. He said his department also uses pictures of whites and Hispanics for target practice.
But, he said: "Our policies were not violated. There is no discipline forthcoming for the individuals who were involved with this."