A Pennsylvania state police leader attempted to avoid criticism this week after a group of fellow officers posed for a photo with him moments after capturing escaped killer Danilo Cavalcante.
Cavalcante was at the center of a highly publicized, nearly two-week manhunt that ended Wednesday. The 34-year-old man was captured in a wooded area in South Coventry Township, Pennsylvania, after escaping from the Chester County Jail on August 31.
The news of Cavalcante’s capture apparently came as a relief to residents of the area. However, several of the arresting officers were outraged online after they were seen gathering around the handcuffed fugitive as another policeman snapped a photo of him on his phone.
Footage of the eyebrow-raising moment was captured for posterity by CBS News and other outlets.
“All those officers should be reprimanded for unprofessionalism,” one person tweeted.
Another added: “I don’t care how horrific the crime is – this photo is in bad taste.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said he was not panicking and urged the media to focus on his team being able to successfully capture Cavalcante.
“Those men and women worked amazingly hard under some difficult circumstances,” Bivens said, according to NBC Philadelphia. “He takes pride in his work. I’m not at all bothered by the fact that they took a picture with him in custody.
He added: “Again, he is proud of his work. They kept the community safe. I thank him for more good work.
However, whether legal experts agree with that stance is questionable.
“From a policing ethics standpoint, a police officer taking a photo on the street and putting it on social media or doing that as a way to celebrate or retaliate, that’s not OK,” said Adam Scott Wandt, associate professor of public policy. ” John Jay College of Criminal Justice told the Associated Press. “As a lawyer, this is a clear problem that is being created here as well. It is a dangerous practice for a police officer to create evidence at the scene and not hand it over properly to the prosecutor.”
Last month, Cavalcante received a life sentence after being convicted of the 2021 murder of his former girlfriend, Deborah Brandao. He is also the prime suspect in a 2017 murder in his native Brazil.