"I don’t know – not having been there and not seeing all the facts – what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home... "Separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-American and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. "That’s just a fact. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made."
As Obama and the arrestee fan the racial flames here - Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. apparently cried, "This is what happens to black men in America!” - police report tells a different story (The Boston Globe had a link to the pdf posted, but has since removed it, but a copied account can be found here).
Sgt. James Crowley flatly refuses to apologize for any alleged racism on his part, “I just have nothing to apologize for. It will never happen.”
According to the Globe, "it was not the first time he had a memorable encounter in the line of duty with a prominent black man. Nearly 16 years ago, as a Brandeis University police officer, Crowley desperately tried to save the life of Reggie Lewis after the Boston Celtics star collapsed while practicing in the school gym."
Crowley was a certified emergency medical technician when he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Lewis, to no avail, after the player’s heart stopped on July 27, 1993. In a Globe interview later that day, Crowley said he rushed to the university’s Shapiro Gymnasium, confirmed that Lewis had no pulse, and frantically tried to revive him.
“I just kept on going,’’ he said. “I just kept thinking, ‘Don’t let him die - just don’t die.’’’
Coming to the Sergeant's defense is the late Celtic's widow. From the Boston Herald:
Yesterday, Lewis’ widow, Donna Lewis, was floored to learn the embattled father of three on the thin blue line of a national debate on racism in America was the same man so determined to rescue her husband.
“That’s incredible,” Lewis, 44, exclaimed. “It’s an unfortunate situation. Hopefully, it can resolve itself. The most important thing is peace.”
Perhaps the real issue is that Obama, the noted basketball nut, begrudges Crowley for not doing enough to rescue the superstar back in 1993:
...he [Crowley] still recalls the pain he suffered when people back then questioned whether he had done enough to save the black athlete.
“Some people were saying ‘There’s the guy who killed Reggie Lewis’ afterward. I was broken-hearted. I cried for many nights,” he said.