FURTHER UPDATE: Here is a joint statement that would seem to end the matter:
Joint Press Release from City of Cambridge, Cambridge PD, Middlesex County D.A., and Prof. Gates
The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department have recommended to the Middlesex County District Attorney that the criminal charge against Professor Gates not proceed. Therefore, in the interests of justice, the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office has agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in this matter.
The City of Cambridge, the Cambridge Police Department, and Professor Gates acknowledge that the incident of July 16, 2009 was regrettable and unfortunate. This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.
UPDATE: Channel 7 reports that all charges against Prof. Gates will be dropped. Good. This photo is from Channel 7.
Let’s just assume that there was non-ideal behavior on all sides. The caller (identified by the Herald as Lucia Whalen of Malden), who observed two black men (Gates and his driver) trying to open the front door, obviously jumped to an entirely unwarranted conclusion when she called the cops on suspicion that a break-in was happening. And, assuming that everything in the police report is accurate (which is no doubt a matter of controversy — see Gates’s lawyer’s statement here), Gates probably yelled a bit more than he should have. But look, the guy was apparently just off a plane from China, and he returned to find that he couldn’t open his front door. He was no doubt exhausted and frustrated, and suddenly the cops are asking him if he’s breaking into his own house. Who can blame him for getting a bit cranky? (UPDATE:) Further, as David Bernstein over at Volokh correctly notes, “yelling at a cop isn’t a crime.”
Which brings us to the cops. Of course they had to respond to a 911 call. But did they really have to arrest, handcuff, and take down to the police station a disabled professor who is obviously no threat to anyone, and who was just upset about being challenged about being in his own home? “Disorderly conduct”? Please. Can’t the cops have a bit thicker skins about stuff like this?
Here’s another weird aspect of this. When I read the Globe story this morning, they had helpfully posted a redacted PDF of the police report. Now it has been removed. I have no idea why. BMG to the rescue. UPDATE: Boston.com has restored part of the police report, including some additional documents, but apparently without Officer Crowley’s original statement. Still not sure what’s up with that.