Live

Watch CBSN Live

Lawyer: Rep. McKinney Victim Of Racism

A lawyer for Rep. Cynthia McKinney, the Georgia congresswoman who had an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, says she was "just a victim of being in Congress while black."

McKinney awaited word Friday on whether she would be charged for apparently striking the officer after she entered a House office building this week unrecognized and did not stop when asked.

Two law enforcement officials said it was unlikely a warrant would be issued this week. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Her lawyer, James W. Myart Jr., said, "Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, like thousands of average Americans across this country, is, too, a victim of the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials because of how she looks and the color of her skin."

"Ms. McKinney is just a victim of being in Congress while black," Myart said. "Congresswoman McKinney will be exonerated."

A spokeswoman for U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Members of Congress wear identifying lapel pins and routinely are waved into buildings without undergoing security checks. McKinney was not wearing her pin at the time, and the officer apparently did not recognize her, she has said.

"Congresswoman McKinney, in a hurry, was essentially chased and grabbed by the officer," Myart said. "She reacted instinctively in an effort to defend herself."

By one police account, she walked around a metal detector and an officer asked her several times to stop. When she did not, the officer tried to stop her, and she then struck the officer, according to that account.

McKinney was defeated in 2002 after she implied on a talk radio program that the Bush administration might have had advance notice of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She won back the seat two years later with 64 percent of the vote.

Several Capitol Police officials have said the officer involved asked McKinney three times to stop. When she did not, he placed a hand on her and she hit him, they said.

Asked on-camera Thursday by WSB-TV of Atlanta whether she intended to apologize, McKinney declined to comment. A news conference scheduled for Friday morning was canceled. She had issued a statement late Wednesday saying she regretted the confrontation.

"I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety, and I appreciate the work that they do. I have demonstrated my support for them in the past and I continue to support them now," she said in the statement on her Web site.

Actor, Danny Glover was expected to appear at an early-evening news conference Friday with McKinney at Howard University.

That gave Republicans material to keep the criticism flowing.

"Rep. McKinney appearing with the star of 'Lethal Weapon'? Not exactly the message you want to be sending," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

In January, during President Bush's State of the Union address, Capitol Police drew criticism for first kicking anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan out of the House gallery, and then for evicting the wife of Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla.

The department is tasked with protecting the 535 members of Congress and the vast Capitol complex in an atmosphere thick with politics and privilege.

The safety of its members became a sensitive issue after a gunman in 1998 killed two officers outside the office of then-Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas.

View CBS News In