More on Whalen’s interaction with Crowley and the reported race of the men

John B. has further thoughts coming off the audio tapes and transcripts and a possible explanation of Crowley’s saying that Whalen told him the men were black. He writes:

Sgt. James Crowley’s report of the arrest of Henry Louis Gates includes this:

At approximately 12:44 PM [July 16, 2009], I was operating my cruiser on Harvard Street near Ware Street. At that time, I overheard an ECC broadcast for a possible break in progress at [17] Ware Street. Due to my proximity, I responded.

When I arrived at [17] Ware Street I radioed ECC and asked that they have the caller meet me at the front door to this residence. I was told that the caller was already outside. As I was getting this information, I climbed the porch stairs toward the front door. As I reached the door, a female voice called out to me. I turned and looked in the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified as Lucia Whalen. Whalen, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, held a wireless telephone in her hand and told me that it was she who called. She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of [17] Ware Street. She told me that her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry. Since I was the only police officer on location and had my back to the front door as I spoke with her, I asked that she wait for other responding officers while I investigated further.

A Boston Herald article of Tuesday, July 28, reports that the audio recordings of the Whalen call to 911 and of Crowley’s radio transmissions during his encounter with Gates have been released. According to the Herald:

…Whalen dropped the bombshell claim Sunday that she didn’t mention race to cops or the 911 operator—and couldn’t even tell the race of the men trying to pry open the door to Gates’ home, contradicting Crowley’s report.

In the 911 call, Whalen can be heard telling the call-taker that she was approached by an elderly neighbor concerned that two “gentlemen” were breaking down the screen door of the home and “barging in.” The operator twice asked her the race of the men, to which Whalen finally responded, “One looked kind of Hispanic, but I’m not really sure.”

I personally do not regard that as a bombshell. After his encounter with Professor Gates—whose every other word to him seems to have been “black”—Sgt. Crowley, in writing up his report, could easily have falsely recalled that Whalen described the two men she saw as black. In his interview with WHDH-TV, Boston, Crowley did not indicate Whalen said anything about race. My own somewhat-simplified transcript of the pertinent part of that interview is this:

Crowley: …it just so happened that I was in Harvard Square, less than a block away from 17 Ware Street, when the call for a crime in progress was broadcast to other units.

Interviewer: And so—once you arrived on—I mean, what? You get the call. What does the call say; what happens when you get there?

Crowley: The call was for a break in progress at 17 Ware Street; and there was a brief description of two people that were trying to force their way through the front door. My recollection was that they had backpacks. It was either backpacks or suitcases. I don’t have a clear recollection right now exactly what was broadcast; but because I was so close, I responded.

Interviewer: And once you got to the scene—I mean that’s what I’m interested—Take me there. You arrived, and you know—[unintelligible] the video. [Unintelligible]

Crowley: I parked in the driveway, and I—I guessed—It wasn’t part of the information; but I was drawing an assumption that the person who had called, the female caller that the dispatchers referenced, was in the house; so there’s a side stairway to the residence, uh, to the porch; and as I climbed that stairway, I asked that they have that caller come outside to me—again, for my safety and for her safety: Remove her from that area, and also I want to gather some more information; and if I don’t have to, I don’t want to walk into that situation alone. Um, after I asked that question, they said that the caller was outside; and after I got that information, a female voice called out to me from behind me; and I turned to see the caller, who was standing on the sidewalk, who again repeated to me that she saw two individuals at the front door. And she actually even dipped her shoulder, and she said it looked like they were forcing their way in through the front door. Now, this is the front door that I turned my back to when she called me. I asked her to stay right where she was, to wait for the other units to arrive; but I had a concern that I now had my back to the door that she said two people just forced their way into; so I turned and faced the door, and that’s when I saw the man that I now know as Professor Gates.

The article at the Herald also says this:

Whalen’s lawyer, Wendy J. Murphy, said yesterday her client’s only contact with Crowley was fleeting, with Whalen saying “Excuse me, I’m the one who called,” and the Cambridge cop replying, “Stay right there.”

Again—I see no real contradiction there, even if lawyer Murphy is accurately reporting Whalen’s recollection. Whalen could easily no longer remember the comparatively-minor fact that her remarks to Crowley included some restatement of her 911 report, about the two men, maybe even the suitcases, and, in pantomime, the shouldering of the door.

The audio of the 911 call and Crowley’s radio transmissions is here.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 28, 2009 08:23 AM | Send

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