Cambridge Police Release 911 Tape and Radio Dispatches of Gates' Arrest

The professor at the center of a race debate and his arresting officer to meet.

ByABC News
July 27, 2009, 8:08 AM

June 27, 2009— -- The Cambridge Police Department today released the 911 tape and radio dispatches in the arrest of Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., in which the police are heard saying that the "gentlemen says he resides here" and is uncooperative, and advises to keep the backup cars coming.

In the 911 call, a woman -- identified as Lucia Whalen -- reports seeing two men break the screen door of Gates' front entrance to enter the house. The woman admits she saw suitcases, and says several times that the men may be the house residents.

"I don't know if they live there, and they just had a hard time with their keys," she's heard saying. " But I did notice that they kind of used their shoulders trying to barge in and they got in."

When asked about the race of the men, the caller said she thought one looked "kind of Hispanic," but didn't see what the other man looked like.

Read the full transcript of the tapes here

In his police report, Sgt. James Crowley wrote that Whalen, who met him in front of Gates' house when he arrived at the scene, told him she saw what appeared to be two black men with backpacks on the porch of the house. But Whalen's attorney told The Associated Press that her client never mentioned the men's race to the sergeant.

In the radio dispatches, a police officer identifies Gates as the man inside the house, saying he is uncooperative. Except for vague noises in the background, the conversation between Gates and the officers is mostly unclear.

Since Gates cannot be heard on the police tapes, the tapes do not settle the differing accounts between Gates and the arresting officer. Gates claims Crowley ignored his requests for his name, while Crowley claims that Gates was loud, accused him of arresting Gates because he "was a black man in America," and even made a reference to Crowley's mother. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct, although the charges were later dropped.

The Cambridge Police Department said today it is convening a committee to see what future lessons the episode can teach. One of the committee's tasks would be to assess "how issues of race and perceptions can impact daily encounters," said Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy at a news conference Monday.

Saying that Cambridge sees itself as "America's classroom," Mayor E. Denise Simmons told reporters that: "it is my hope these events will serve as a catalyst ... that we will come away with a better understanding of how we can interact as a community. And how we can avoid situations like this from occurring."

Gates, former host of the PBS show "African-American Lives," was arrested June 16 for disorderly conduct by Crowley and his team. Crowley said he was simply responding to reports that two men were breaking into Gates' house. Gates said he and his driver were trying to open a broken lock on his door.

"It's time to move forward, lessons learned and go from there. I hope they enjoy their beer at the White House," Healy said, referring to the invitation Gates and Crowley received for drinks at the White House with President Obama.