"I hope people can see that I tried to be careful and honest with my words," Whalen said at a press conference Wednesday. "It never occurred to me that the way I reported what I saw be analyzed in an entire nation."
Whalen's attorney, Wendy Murphy, said her client "didn't speak to Sgt. Crowley at the scene except to say, 'I'm the one who called.' And he said, 'Wait right there,' and walked into the house. She never used the word black and never said the word backpacks to anyone."
The president was aiming to defuse the controversy caused by his remarks last week that the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in arresting Gates. He's backtracked since then, saying that he could have framed his words differently but has stuck by his claim that his friend Gates should never have been arrested, though he's suggested both men are at fault.
Obama called both men last Friday, which is when Crowley suggested they hoist a cold one together.
Some, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, have said Gates should have showed more restraint and been more careful with his words. But some point the finger at Crowley for being too hasty in his arrest.
"Professor Gates should've been nicer but it's not against the law to say bad things to the police. Police hear much worse things," Butler, who authored a book about race and the justice system, told ABC News. "The concern is that when the police were messing with a 58-year-old man with a cane, they weren't out catching the real bad guys and ultimately that's the problem with racial profiling. It doesn't help the police do their job effectively.
"It's not about kum-ba-ya," he said.
And yet some others echo the president's comments that cooler heads should have prevailed on both sides.
"My guess is that they both think that they might have reacted, perhaps, a little differently and this situation might have... been avoided," Eric Holder, the country's first African American attorney general, told ABC News' Pierre Thomas on Wednesday. "Sometimes people need to take a deep breath."
Meanwhile, the fallout from the incident continues. The Boston Police Department this week suspended one officer after he wrote a racist e-mail about Gates, calling the Harvard professor a "jungle monkey." And in New York, an aide for Democratic Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer resigned after she called Gates a racist and Obama as "O-dumb-a" on Facebook.