Officer in Henry Gates flap tried to save Reggie Lewis
Denies he’s a racist, won’t apologize
By Laurel J. Sweet, Marie Szaniszlo, Laura Crimaldi, Jessica Van Sack & Joe Dwinell
Thursday, July 23, 2009 - Updated 34m ago
The Cambridge cop prominent Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. claims is a racist gave a dying Reggie Lewis mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a desperate bid to save the Celtics [team stats] superstar’s life 16 years ago Monday.
“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,” Sgt. James Crowley, in an exclusive interview with the Herald, said of the forward’s fatal heart attack July 27, 1993, at age 27 during an off-season practice at Brandeis University, where Crowley was a campus police officer.
It’s a date Crowley still can recite by rote - and he still recalls the pain he suffered when people back then questioned whether he had done enough to save the black athlete.
“Some people were saying ‘There’s the guy who killed Reggie Lewis’ afterward. I was broken-hearted. I cried for many nights,” he said.
Crowley, 42, said he’s not a racist, despite how some have cast his actions in the Gates case. “Those who know me know I’m not,” he said.
Yesterday, Lewis’ widow, Donna Lewis, was floored to learn the embattled father of three on the thin blue line of a national debate on racism in America was the same man so determined to rescue her husband.
“That’s incredible,” Lewis, 44, exclaimed. “It’s an unfortunate situation. Hopefully, it can resolve itself. The most important thing is peace.”
Gates, 58, an acclaimed scholar on black history and a PBS documentarian, went on the attack against Crowley on Tuesday, demanding he apologize for arresting him for disorderly conduct last Thursday while investigating a reported break-in at his home. Gates, returning from a trip, was seen by a Malden woman trying to force his front door open. Police alleged he initially refused to identify himself.
Though he harbors no “ill feelings toward the professor,” a calm, resolute Crowley said no mea culpa will be forthcoming.
“I just have nothing to apologize for,” he said. “It will never happen.”