Obama Called Police Officer Who Arrested Gates, Still Sees 'Overreaction' in Arrest

President Obama called the Cambridge police officer who arrested his friend, prominent Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., but did not go so far as to say he apologized to the sergeant for saying the police acted "stupidly" during the incident.

Late today, Gates' attorney, Charles Ogletree, told ABC News that his client was "relieved and excited" by the president's telephone outreach.

"It's going to bring together not only the parties to this particular episode but a larger community dialogue about how citizens and police can have more productive and effective exchanges," Ogletree said.

VIDEO: President Obama speaks to Cambridge cop about Gates

Representatives of Sgt. James Crowley released a statement saying Crowley was "profoundly grateful" for the phone call.

"It is clear to us from this conversation that the president respects police officers and the often difficult and dangerous situations we face on a daily basis. We appreciate his sincere interest and willingness to reconsider his remarks about the Cambridge Police Department," the statement read.

Earlier today in an unannounced trip to the White House press room, the president clarified remarks he made at the end of Wednesday night's press conference, reiterating his point that "there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home."


But Obama said he had a cordial conversation with Crowley, who had complained about the president's criticism. Obama said laughingly he had a discussion with Crowley about the three of them having beer at the White House.

The president's spokesman said it was Crowley's idea for the three to get together for a beer. According to Gates' attorney, Gates doesn't drink beer but he'll show-up for the meeting.

The president also called Gates following his impromptu remarks and invited the Harvard professor to join him at the White House with Crowley in the near future.

"Because this has been ratcheting up -- and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up -- I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately... gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sgt. Crowley specifically," the president said. "And I could've calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sgt. Crowley."

Video of people reacting to the presidents invovlement in the Henry

"I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station," the president added. "I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well. My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved."

Sources told ABC News the White House reached out to Tom Nee, president of the National Police Officers Association, who then contacted Crowley. Crowley got the call while he was with his union supporters.

Obama said it was unfortunate that his comments, instead of illuminating, contributed to "media frenzy" and said he hopes this would be "a teachable moment."

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