A white police sergeant who arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. was the campus police officer who tried to save the life of former Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis.
Sgt. James Crowley was a campus police officer at Brandeis University when Lewis, who was black, collapsed and died during an off-season workout in July 1993. Crowley administered CPR, trying to resuscitate the dying Lewis.
Crowley responded to Gates' home near Harvard University last week to investigate a report of a burglary and demanded Gates show him identification. Police say Gates at first refused and accused the officer of racism.
Denying racist claims, Crowley told the Boston Herald that trying to save Lewis' life wasn't about his race or fame.
"I wasn't working on Reggie Lewis the basketball star. I wasn't working on a black man. I was working on another human being," Crowley said.
He says that people still question whether he did enough to save the basketball star.
"Some people were saying 'There's the guy who killed Reggie Lewis' afterward. I was broken-hearted. I cried for many nights," Crowley told the Herald.
Crowley said Thursday he'swithout knowing all the facts.
Gates was charged with disorderly conduct. The charge was dropped Tuesday, and Gates has since demanded an apology from Crowley.
Crowley, 42, said he won't apologize. And his union has expressed "full and unqualified" support for him.
Fellow officers, black and white, say he is well-liked and respected on the force.
Former director of Public Safety at Brandies Joseph McDonald told the Boston Herald that Crowley was a "real pro" and that Gates' charge was "strange."
"You just do the job as a cop. You don't look at the color of skin. You're just trying to help people," McDonald said.
Gates' supporters maintain his arrest was a case of racial profiling. Officers were called to the home by a woman who said she saw "two black males with backpacks" trying to break in the front door. Gates has said he arrived home from an overseas trip and the door was jammed.
Police supporters charge that Gates was responsible for his own arrest by overreacting.