Photo of New Orleans Mayor Playing With Gun Sparks Debate

A photograph in a Times-Picayune report Wednesday on the New Orleans Police Department's new crime-fighting equipment has set off a wave of controversy.

In the photo, Mayor Ray Nagin is smiling and seems to be aiming an assault rifle at Police Superintendent Warren Riley.

The picture has sparked debate amongst readers, talk radio hosts and bloggers over whether the mayor is actually pointing the gun at Riley.

Late Thursday, the Times-Picayune issued an apology to the mayor.

"A review of a video taken at the event shows that the camera captured a split second as the gun was being lowered that made it appear to be deliberately pointed at the chief," the paper wrote. "However, the mayor clearly did not deliberately point the gun at Riley."

Video shows the mayor playfully waving the gun in front of a crowd, leading some to say that Nagin did not intentionally take aim at the chief, reports.

A statement release by the City of New Orleans Mayors Office says, "The photo selected to depict the public safety press conference yesterday by the Times Picayune grossly misrepresented the Mayor of the City of New Orleans, the Superintendent of Police and the men and women of the police department."

The statement goes on to call the publication of the Nagin photograph a tragedy.

"The photo was taken out of context, was selected by our own local media and is now showcased across the nation as a mockery of all this city's recovery efforts," the mayor's office said in the statement.

Click here to see the photo in the Times-Picayune.

Click here to read the Times-Picayune's apology.

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