Police Posed With Cavalcante After His Capture
Police Posed With Cavalcante After His Capture

In the immediate aftermath of the manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante, a peculiar scene unfolded — some two dozen law enforcement agents in tactical gear clustered around the fugitive. One, holding the leash of a canine, nudged his way to the front. Another knelt with a rifle that had been recovered. A third officer handed off his cellphone to a colleague before joining the group. Then everyone posed for a photo.

The moment was captured on video by a news helicopter, and criticism swiftly followed on social media. Some observers thought it was not worth memorializing. Others said it was unnecessary or unfair to use Mr. Cavalcante, who appeared to remain expressionless, as an involuntary prop.

Asked at a news conference about the photo op, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said: “Those men and women work amazingly hard through some very trying circumstances. They’re proud of their work. I’m not bothered at all by the fact that they took a photograph with him in custody.”

Similar questions have surfaced before. In 2021, a photo of white police officers and their dogs in Mississippi posing with a captured Black bank robbery suspect drew widespread criticism. In 2015, a Chicago officer was fired after a photo surfaced in which he and another officer, both of whom were white, posed with long guns, flanking a Black suspect wearing antlers.

There are some parallels in the military, where the practice of capturing such moments is prohibited in part because the Geneva Convention shields prisoners of war from “public curiosity.” Still, it happens regularly, if quietly, in the Army and Marine Corps, both with live detainees and dead enemies.

Dave Philipps contributed reporting.

Shaila Dewan

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