"It was not illegal or unethical given that ethical guidelines and recommendations are not absolute," he said in an e-mail. But he also said the Post should have used another image.
"This moment was such for me -- it was too private in my view," he wrote. "I am all for maximizing truth telling, while minimizing harm, which can be done by fully vetting the alternatives available and publishing with a sense of compassion and respect."
The Post is no stranger to walking up to the lines of journalistic ethics -- and sometimes crossing them -- with its pithy, often lurid, coverage of crime and other news in the Big Apple.
"HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR," the newspaper once famously shouted from its cover.
Nor is the Post shot the first news photo to generate ethics concerns.
An Agence France-Presse photo that won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize generated controversy for its depiction of a girl in Afghanistan crying amid a number of bloody bodies.
Also this year, the New York Times published a graphic image showing blood streaming from the body of a victim after a fatal August shooting at the Empire State Building.
At the time, Poynter quoted a Times spokeswoman as saying the image was "a newsworthy photograph that shows the result and impact of a public act of violence."