The 911 tape has been released. CNN:
In the call, Lucia Whalen reports seeing “two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic, but I’m not really sure, and the other one entered, and I didn’t see what he looked like at all.”
“I just saw it from a distance, and this older woman was worried, thinking somebody’s breaking in someone’s house and they’ve been barging in,” Whalen says. “She interrupted me, and that’s when I noticed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So I was just calling because she was a concerned neighbor, I guess.” Listen in on the 911 phone call »
Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents Whalen, also categorically rejected part of the police report that said Whalen talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene.
“Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene,” Murphy told CNN by phone. “And she never said to any police officer or to anybody ‘two black men.’ She never used the word ‘black.’ Period.”
I have to say I’m shocked. When I asked last week Would A Webcam At Gates’ Home Have Changed Anything? I never imagined that the witness would dispute Sgt. Crowley’s version of events. I have very serious issues with the reliability of witness testimony, but as I read it now, the words on the tape contradict the police report. That’s bad.
I piped down after my post following Obama’s regret Friday. I thought Obama’s press room appearance was pitch perfect. His skills will be required now more than ever. I’m glad they’ll be drinking Blue Moon this week. The issue is not right and wrong, not making a point, not winning. It is reconciliation, pure and simple easier said than done!
LATER RELATED: Radley Balko argues that we ought to put race aside and focus instead on the overly broad arrest powers afforded to the police:
The conversation we ought to be having in response to the July 16 incident and its heated aftermath isn’t about race, it’s about police arrest powers, and the right to criticize armed agents of the government.
By any account of what happened—Gates’, Crowleys’, or some version in between—Gates should never have been arrested. “Contempt of cop,” as it’s sometimes called, isn’t a crime. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It may be impolite, but mouthing off to police is protected speech, all the more so if your anger and insults are related to a perceived violation of your rights. The “disorderly conduct” charge for which Gates was arrested was intended to prevent riots, not to prevent cops from enduring insults. Crowley is owed an apology for being portrayed as a racist, but he ought to be disciplined for making a wrongful arrest.
On the conservative contradiction:
Commenting on Gates’ arrest, National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg wrote that he counts himself among those who are “deferential to police,” and willing to “give cops the benefit of the doubt for a host of reasons.” That’s a common position among conservatives. At a Federalist Society luncheon a few years ago, Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson praised the Supreme Court for “putting more trust in our police officers” in recent rulings. Los Angeles Police Department officer Jack Dunphy (a pseudonym) oddly concluded at National Review Online that the lesson from the Gates/Crowley affair is that anyone who asserts his constitutional rights when confronted by a police officer risks getting shot.
A few commenters used grotesque racial epithets, others crudely parodied black speech, and some proudly called themselves racist. One used the screen name of James Earl Ray, the man who killed Martin Luther King Jr.
Those probably should have been removed, said Terence W. Samuel, deputy editor of The Root, but he added that worse comments had been taken down.
“For the most part, as long as the comments are not threats of violence, and the most vicious, nasty, racist comments, we leave them up,” he said.
Keep that in mind, folks, as we debate here. Me, I say again, I’m counting on Obama, Gates & Crowley to have that beer. Then come out reconciled and teach all of us a thing or two.