No mistaken identity

On “Greater Boston” this evening, Wendy Murphy said Lucia Whalen did indeed meet Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley outside Henry Louis Gates’ house, but said nothing — certainly nothing about the race of the two men whom she’d reported in her 911 call.

According to Murphy, the full extent of their exchange was Crowley’s asking Whalen to stay put while he checked things out. Essentially, Murphy said, Whalen did not talk to Crowley at all.

Now, recall what Crowley wrote in his arrest report:

Whalen, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, held a wireless telephone in her hand and told me 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 [redacted] Ware Street.

This may be just a small detail that needs to be cleared up. Or not. We need to hear from Crowley and Whalen herself. What they have to say speaks to the accuracy of Crowley’s report.

67 thoughts on “No mistaken identity

  1. O'Reilly

    Crowley remembering and reporting details like 1) a conversation about 2) two black males and 3) with backpacks is a little problematic given that Whalen says they didn't speak. The dispatcher tells Whalen to wait and tells Crowley that the complainant is in front of the residence. Crowley in his report describes walking to the porch before he hears he a women talk to him. He's not looking for her when he gets out of his car? Plus her lawyer says she didn't speak to him.Finally the duration of the entire call is 12:44 to 12:51, exactly seven minutes. That means Crowley found Gates to be acting in violation of the law (for yelling) and sufficiently uncooperative (even though Gates produces two forms of ID) during a period of time seven minutes in duration. Crowley seems to be in a bit of a rush.

  2. Nancy

    Lucia Whalen got a lawyer? I find that highly suspicious. No wonder she is now claiming she never identified the suspects by race to officers on the scene. She's probably afraid of getting named in Gate's lawsuit. I'm getting nervous and I was miles away…

  3. lkcape

    It's all Ms. Whalen's fault. She got got Gates to mouth off and make an ass of himself.(Arguing using Mr. B_1 approach and logic.)

  4. Bob F

    He's not hearing Ms. Whalen clarify for the dispatcher that she now sees two suitcases and it may not be a break-in.. that she was actually calling on behalf of a senior citizen who was concerned that is was a robbery. Curious why we haven't heard much from, or about, the elder woman whom Whalen had called for, nor the driver, the "second black male". That said, the fact that Crowley suggested at some point that they were indeed two black males should not muddle the issue, no more than if he had had mentioned that the potential suspects were two Chinese Acrobats, if they were. They were the parties he came across, and that is their description. I think he made a good point in one interview I heard, when he said he was told by someone that there were two people who were breaking in the house.. He suggested that even if Gate's was indeed the owner, it could have been that two OTHER people may have been in his house, unkown to him (Gate's)… or, that there could have been a domestic dispute. Imagine of either of those were true, and he had gone on his way, and something horrible had happened. We MIGHT just be hearing some say that he didn't bother to fully investigate because of their color. I dunno. He says "two black males" because that describes them, just as it would had a bank just been robbed, or if two black children were missing and an Amber Alert was issued. Two White Males, Two Black Males, I guess you'd only see a negative connotation in either one of those descriptions if you were prejudice?

  5. O-FISH-L

    Dan wrote: "According to Murphy, the full extent of their exchange was Crowley's asking Whalen to stay put while he checked things out. Essentially, Murphy said, Whalen did not talk to Crowley at all."—Possible, I guess, but not probable. The named caller who remains at the scene of this type of call is rare. Like any third hand information, things are often lost in the process of police call taking and dispatching. If the caller is standing there when the officer arrives, he wants to move her to safety while keeping that door in view, then get a quick first-hand summary, (much like a reporter) of who, what, where, when and why. Obviously this would be a quick exchange, 30 seconds to a minute, but an exchange of info nonetheless.I never saw an officer, nor did I ever personally brush past a named caller who was waiting for me at this type of call. A bad car accident or some scene where a dying person was right within view, maybe you tell the caller to wait here while I try to save a life, but not at a property crime where taking the time to gather additional info might save your own life. My guess is there is more to this.

  6. lkcape

    Sure there is more to this. And it won't be found in the witch-hunt to which Ms. Whalen is currently being subjected.Nor will it be found in Sgt. Crowley's remarks.Wanna find some more of the "context"?Go interview Gates. Press HIS story as hard as the others are being pressed…..Oh, sorry, the media can't. They might be labeled as being "racist". Who knows what sort of damage to their credibility that sort of charge would cause!He's claiming he is a victim. Go find out what sort of "victim" he really is.

  7. mike_b1

    Wow, lckape, you sound miffed over Crowley's muff. One would think you are more interested in the seeing the black man hang than the truth.

  8. O'Reilly

    Crowley's report has problems if Whalen did not speak with him as she has asserted (through her lawyer.) Crowley describes having walked up the porch steps and turning around when he hears the female voice. He says the woman is holdng a cell phone. Whalen had a cell phone while we can assume the elderly neighbor did not, (which is why she would asked Whalen to call.) And yet Crowley also describes Whalen saying she became suspicious when … but we know from the 911 call that Whalen explains she did not become suspicions, rather she is calling for the lady who became suspiciopuus. Also of note, this entire episode transpired in about seven minutes from beginning to end. Could it be that officer Crowley was in a hurry? What kind of time pressures might make him particularly impatient? Gates was arrested for loud argumentative speech but not threatening speech. This may be why the DA punted on the prosecution. Whalen might get herself an attorney if she though she might be the middle of a he said/he said and didn't want to become a good Samaritan who became a victim.

  9. lkcape

    Mr. B_1, the "victim in perpetuity" routine is getting tiresome. Are you as uncomfortable your being as Mr. Gates was with his?(Don't you like your way of arguing coming back at you, eh?)

  10. O'Reilly

    I think Gates was wrong about racial profiling from the perspective of why he was singled out. I think Gates may be right about "rogue" cop. We'll see if Crowley's Incident Report holds up on substantive assertions.

  11. Amused

    Whalen's comments, it seems, may be taken as fodder for whatever point of view one has on this incident.But at least Wendy Murphy got another round of publicity before, in a rare move for her, jumping off the publicity bandwagon before she could be pinned down as to what it means.As the right-wingers circle the wagons, this matter is coming down to three simple question: Why wouldn't Crowley give a citizen his name and badge number? Did he respond to a demand for this information with an arrest that was unjustifiable under the statute because of his own arrogance? How out of control would the incident have gotten if the homeowner was a frail white professorial-appearing man with Gates build and obvious infirmities? Let the backpeddling continue!

  12. mike_b1

    If anything, lckape, I'd say the heat is all on the heat now. Crowley is not what he first appeared. Or perhaps he is.

  13. Bob F

    Crowley says in the tapes something like "the gentleman is being uncooperative" – this was when he didn't know this would become 'something'. The black officer has stated that he saw Gates being animated and agitated. Witnesses who gathered say the same thing. Gates has made no claim of Crowley calling him names, touching him, or expressing a racial motive. Crowley appears calm throughout, and nobody has stated otherwise, Gates not so much. Crowley investigated this matter in line with the procedures he was instructed to follow, according to Cambridge Police. Had Crowley not gone into the house, and the Professor and Mary Ann ended up being assaulted by the "two males, one possibly Hispanic", Crowley would be accused of failing to protect a black man. Gates was not arrested for breaking into the house. Gates was arrested for not allowing a police officer complete his investigating into reported crime in progress. To suggest that Gates was arrested for no reason is silly. Cop comes to your house, placing his life on the line, and has to listen to your nonsense, based on your preconceived expectation that a white cop must be racially motivated? Gate's didn't like the idea of this white cop coming into his house, ignorant of the fact that Crowley might have good reason to suspect that two criminals might very well be in that house, of whatever color. Had the responding cop been black, and the same series of events took place, we wouldn't be discussing this right now. REPEAT: Had the responding cop been black, this would be a non issue. It's not Crowley's racial bias that created this problem, it's Gates'. When and why Crowley mentioned "two black men" is quite secondary, the 'subjects' ended up being black males, so what, they also ended up being innocent. A cop who happens to be white, was trying to protect a homeowner who happens to be black, from a reported break-in by two other males who after the fact are found to be the black homeowner and driver. It was in Mr. Gate's control to let this matter end as a simple misunderstanding, but in spite of his background, or more likely because of it, he did not do so. I mouth off to a cop as he responds to a reported crime and i'm going to be charged with disorderly conduct, regardless off my color, or his, or her's. And often, i'm going to get a slap to the head to boot, or a boot to the head. Yes, one of the parties showed their racism here, just not the one you'd expect it from. As Mike b1 Notes "Crowley is not what he 1st appeared".. True, in Mr. Gate's eyes he appeared to be a white guy stomping on the liberties of a black man by entering his house. Too bad, had he only been a black cop instead! I wonder if this will make other white cops slow down a little when responding to the next call, so they dont have to deal with this for the rest of their lives, as the "injured party" goes on the talk show circut and plans classes around it.

  14. mike_b1

    "The black officer?"Which "black officer," Bob F? Offier James Crowley? or Officer Carlos Figueroa?

  15. Bob F

    There was a black officer on the scene, I dont know his name, he was interviewed saying he saw Gates upset, he has backed his fellow officer. My point is that had ANY black officer been 1st on scene, and acted similiarly to officer Crowley, this wouldn't be a story. This is just as much a story of Gates being black as it is that Crowley is white. Or visa versa. If that is the essense of your question?

  16. mike_b1

    Bob, as Chris Hitchens writes this week, this is about a person's right to free speech. We can argue all day over whether Crowley or any other responding officer's actions were informed by race (and they probably were), but in fact Crowley attempted to deny Gates his right to speech. That's a chilling response of the empowered toward the unempowered.

  17. O'Reilly

    Duran v. City of Douglas, 904 F.2d 1372 (9th Cir. 1990) :Duran's conduct is not totally irrelevant, however, as it suggests a possible motive for his detention, one upon which law enforcement officers may not legitimately rely. The Durans contend, and the district court held, that Aguilar stopped their car at least partly in retaliation for the insult he received from Duran. If true, this would constitute a serious First Amendment violation. "[T]he First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers." Hill, 482 U.S. at 461, 107 S.Ct. at 2509. The freedom of individuals to oppose or challenge police action verbally without thereby risking arrest is one important characteristic by which we distinguish ourselves from a police state. Id. at 462-63, 107 S.Ct. at 2510. Thus, while police, no less than anyone else, may resent having obscene words and gestures directed at them, they may not exercise the awesome power at their disposal to punish individuals for conduct that is not merely lawful, but protected by the First Amendment.Crowley's report does not identify any actions taken by Gates other than "yelling" and "tumultuous behaviour" (as in noisy, disorderly, riotous).

  18. Al

    Wendy Murphy seeking publicity? Where'd you get THAT idea? Honestly, though, has this woman ever met a microphone or camera she didn't like? I agree with O'Reilly about Gates' behavior constituting free speech. Murphy seemed to think his rather vituperative reaction to be disorderly conduct. I disagree…

  19. Bob F

    There's no doubt that authorities often infringe on our right to free speech, no argument from me on that one. Call a cop an arsehole, and the warning becomes a ticket. Tell the judge she's ugly, 10 days added to your time. The charge was made and the charges were dropped.At one point Gates knew that his identity was cleared up. His property was safe, his tax dollars were well spent. How does it not end with "thank you officer"? How does it then become an adversarial relationship? The cop HAS to arrive on a call like that and ASSUME that his 1st contact with you could be a bullet in his chest.. a completely different mid set than where Gates views the same confrontation.I dont know if there even is a right or wrong with what went down here.. Gate's understands the history of being a black man in America and all that they have had to deal with. The Cop comes upon a reported crime scene with a duty to be prepared for the worst. Gate's thinks its' wrong that the cop comes into his house. The cop has a right to go into his house based on the report of a crime in progress.In the end, I do believe that as much as either of them would suggest that their biases played no role in the eventual result, they did. I imagine a few white cops might not want to be 1st on the scene next time they have to answer a call at that address. Gates might WISH a white cop was there to help at some point. I certainly hope not, but you get my point. White men break into houses, black men can be presidents. I think Obama was right, this was a stupid result, and had either of them not been in their own unique midset of what was taking place, it would have ended differently.

  20. actfour

    O'Reilly – Duran v. City of Douglas, 904 F.2d 1372 (9th Cir. 1990) :That is it in a nutshell. And that is why this is such a big issue. And, it should be. Officer Crowley was quite cute with his cocky, passive-aggressive mannerism. But, aside from all the superfluous details, Professor Gates was punished without due process, for exercising his First Amendment rights. This is serious, now, and the threat if Officer Crowley is allowed to do this in the future. He should not be a person in authority.

  21. O-FISH-L

    A Cambridge District Court magistrate (judicial branch) found that the standard of probable cause was met and then proceeded to issue a criminal complaint against Gates for Disorderly Conduct. Arraignment was scheduled for August, before the politicians began peddling their influence. The arresting officer needn't (and for mental health reasons, shouldn't) concern himself with anything other than a finding of probable cause. With politicians as DA's, defense attorneys, clerks and judges, and back room deals the norm, for an officer to worry about cases after probable cause is found would result in many insomniacs in blue. Crowley has long been vindicated by the clerk magistrates ruling. To continue to debate legal arrest v. illegal arrest is to ignore the ruling of the court, which was never formally challenged.

  22. O'Reilly

    What part of an arraignment finds "that the standard of probable cause was met"?Arraignment is a formal reading of a criminal complaint in the presence of the defendant to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her. In response to arraignment, the accused is expected to enter a plea. If its true Public Disorderly requires an identifiable complainant, then why are none named in Crowley's Incident Report ….except Whalen … who layered up.You claim the DA doesn't look at the facts and apply the law using the awesome power of prosecutorial discretion in a principled way. Is there no one, except principled officers of the law, who choose to do the right thing always due to virtue and common goodness? You're unbelievable – so fast to sling mud and so slow to assume accountability for errors made on the blue side of the thin blue line.

  23. O'Reilly

    layered = lawyered(coincidence that she lawyered up… how many witnesses feel they need a lawyer?)

  24. Amused

    I'm surprised nobody has dug up Maximum Bob Barton (speaking of publicity hounds) to ask him to explain the elements of the crime vis. what Crowley did. A clerk magistrate need not be an attorney and a criminal complaint will issue on the signature of an assistant clerk. The defendant is not heard when the complaint is signed, but the defendant has a right to challenge whether probable cause exists through a show-cause hearing before a clerk magistrate or, in hte case of an arrest, in a formal courtroom hearing.The DA didn't dump this because of politics, the DA dumped the case because the elements of the crime were nowhere to be found in Crowley's incident report. Gate was not in a public place, his comments, no matter how loudly made, were not intended to incite passers-by.Just about any judge in the state would have tossed this nonsense into the scrap heap, perhaps even ole Maximum Bob himself.

  25. bob gardner

    Thanks to O-Fish-L for your reply to my question yesterday. In your own experience, on those rare occasions when someone did play the race card to you, what was your response? Were you more inclined to arrest them, less inclined, or did it have no effect on your actions?

  26. Bob F

    O'Reilly – Duran v. City of Douglas went on to say…"We cannot, of course, condone Duran's conduct; it was boorish, crass and, initially at least, unjustified. Our hard-working law enforcement officers surely deserve better treatment from members of the public. But disgraceful as Duran's behavior may have been, it was not illegal; criticism of the police is not a crime".Crowley is not expected to be an expert in constitutional law. As folks gathered in front of the porch, listening to Gates berate Crowley, there certainly could have become a point where Crowley felt that Gates was interering with the officers duties. To suggest that officer Crowley should not be in a position of authority based on this case, is blatently absurd.In court, a case like this could go either way, based on the facts, the state of mind of the parties, etc.. it's no slam dunk either way. No adjudication of the matter took place, the case was simply not prosecuted. Were it me, an unknown white guy, it would have been, you know it and I know it. It didn't BECAUSE of who he is and that he cried 'race'.The world isn't talking about this case because of free speech, the world is talking about this case because Gate's claims that the charge, whatever the charge, was made because he is black and Crowley is white.Still haven't seen anything to indicate that Gate's bases that claim on anything other than his perspective.If Crowley were a black officer do you think Gates would have been less offended that he came into the house to ensure everything was ok? I don't, because Gate's didn't come out onto the media markets shouting "Free Speech – Free Speech", he came out yelling "Bias, Racism". And how often does someone get into a yelling match with a police officer who is responding to a break-in in progress in your own house? Do you REALLY think Crowley dislikes blacks and only teaches the class as a cover? I haven't heard a single word Crowley said that would lead us to believe that.

  27. Bob F

    correction, I DO think Gate's would have been less offended if it was a black officer who had gone into his house. – Two finger typist.

  28. mike_b1

    Bob, no one is asking Crowley to "be an expert in constitutional law." It doesn't take a lawyer to know all he had to do was walk away. Perhaps his police training leaves something to be desired.

  29. Bob F

    Well isn't that all Gates had to do? I mean what was the singular moment where these two people who should have the same goal in mind became adversaries? That's the interesting part that I don't get. I imagine the cop came with his stress, being a hard ass, and Gate's took that as an afront to a black man of his stature. The perfect storm. It really would be a shame, though, if Crowley really tries to be a fair cop, color blind, and gets tagged with this for life. Anotherwords, a cop over stepping his bounds, but not based on race. I'm sure this WILL be a lesson learned, a lesson taught at cambridge Police school, and in Mr. Gate's class.

  30. mike_b1

    Gates has a First Amendment right to speech. And he was on his own property. To argue he should have acted differently is effectively to say you want the right to tell other citizens what to do.

  31. Bob F

    If you're responding to me.. i'm not arguing he didn't have a right to free speech, and i'm not willing to give up my right to free speech either.. But lets ask ourselves what that speech was about. Of what we've heard happened, what was it that caused Mr. Gates to begin expressing THAT free speech? Why was it not "Thank you officer, good job" scenerio? What was it that Crowley did that pissed Gates off? I haven't heard Gates say.. other than Crowley came into his house.. and I think Crowley had a very good explaination for doing so. Do you advise your kids that it's ok to talk back to the cop? Sure, you have the legal right to do those things, but WHY would you do them? I can stand on Main street yelling "cops suck, cops suck".. but unless i'm doing that to simply prove a point, I probably don't want to get pulled over by the local cops. To me, the crime of claiming racism when there is no evidence that it does, is as bad as being a racist. But I respect you and other peiople's opinions to the contrary.

  32. mike_b1

    Free speech doesn't mean you have to like what the speaker has to say. It's Gates' right to make an ass of himself. People do it everyday and don't get arrested for it (see O-FISH; lckape). Claiming racism isn't a crime; it's just more free speech.Gates was arrested not for what he said, but for having the audacity to say it.

  33. mike_b1

    And Bob, for the record, I tell my sons (ages 3 and 6) always to stand up for themselves, and that they will never be in trouble with me at least for using words to express themselves.

  34. Bob F

    And I too tell my children -16/18/21- to stand up for themselves, but i've also told them they should respect authority. Cops dont always find themselves in clear or comfortable positions when they respond to calls.. and i'm sure this call was no different. And i'm not an apologist for the cops, believe me. YES, I AGREE, free speech is his right, and I would expect to be able to express myself similarly, and he should have been allowed to. I am not arguing the legal merits of the arrest, or the lack therof. I guess what i'm saying is that we have a respected police officer and a respected professor, and they can among them find the sense to let it rest? No, claiming racism isn't a crime, but using it as a tool when it may not have had anything to do with this fiasco IS a crying shame. How much resentment has been created among the races in Boston because of this, with our history? How many will "pre-judge" all of us because of this? Yes, Gate's rights were probably trampled on, a minior charge that cooler heads decided to drop, and his legal battles are over. But the racial aspect of it lives on.And Mike, let me be clear, I only engage in this exchange to express my opinions, and to appreciate your's. I have been wrong before and will be again, we all make mistakes in judgement, we all have a bad day… But Crowley's behavior didn't set a new precedent for the right to free speech. If he had it to do over again… i'm just not convinced that if Mr. Gate's had it all to do over, he would.

  35. lkcape

    Hmmmm…calling someone a "racist" is free speech…..Mr. B_1: You are a racist.Is that free speech?As for telling your sons to stand up for themselves… Good advice, as long as it doesn't lead to serious and irreversible consequences for them.I guess that's where we differ the most. You'll say anything to stand up for yourself no matter how wrong you are or what the consequences of your error might be.Not smart! But hey, it goes to further your toilet paper image.

  36. acf

    Nancy 9:03I would not be at all surprised if Wendy Murphy hadn't approached Lucia Whalen and asked to represent her. She's seems to appear every time a high profile legal issue arises involving a woman. She seems to like the media face time. Of course, I don't see why Whalen would have a lawyer at all.

  37. mike_b1

    lckape, do you honestly think I care what you think of me? Is that really the best thing you have to do with your time?

  38. O'Reilly

    As for telling your sons to stand up for themselves… Good advice, as long as it doesn't lead to serious and irreversible consequences for them.Are you saying there is inherent danger in standing up for yourself and that one should temper advocating for them self if there is a risk of consequences? That sounds cowardly to me. I guess that's where we differ the most. You'll say anything to stand up for yourself… and you'll roll over rather than take a beating, even if you're right and another person is depriving you of your rights or property?

  39. lkcape

    One does not have to be confrontational to stand up for ones' self.Getting mad can get one hurt.Getting stupid can get one hurt, too.Testosterone is not the universal answer.The winner is the one that wins, not necessarily the one that has the loudest mouth.

  40. mike_b1

    lkcape wrote: The winner is the one that wins, not necessarily the one that has the loudest mouth.So true. And maybe someday you'll actually know what it feels like not to have the loudest mouth.

  41. lkcape

    Guffaw…. Maybe someday, you will see just how much credibility you have lost with your testosterone-fueled ranting and inability to remain civil.Is the toilet paper a view of your world or the rest of the world?

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