By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff
The lawyer for the police union that represents Cambridge Sergeant James M. Crowley today predicted that President Obama will regret that he accused department officers of "acting stupidly" when they handcuffed Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. even after he showed proof that he lived in his house.
"He conceded that he didn't have all the facts, and indeed he didn't," Alan J. McDonald, the lawyer for the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said of the president. "I suspect that when the full picture comes out, he will regret the remarks he made."
Obama, speaking at a nationally televised press conference Wednesday night, said he didn't "know all the facts" about the case and didn't know whether race played a role in the arrest of Gates, who is black, by Crowley, a white officer investigating a burglary report.
But the president added that it is "just a fact" that African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately stopped by police -- evidence "that race remains a factor in our society."
McDonald, the lawyer for the 50-member police union, says he knows Crowley personally and considers him a topnotch officer who behaved appropriately in the Gates arrest.
He said he and members of the union "were disappointed" in Obama's remarks. "I think perhaps the president might have second thoughts about shooting from the hip."
The White House today, meanwhile, backed away slightly from President Obama's remark.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters traveling on Air Force One that Obama did not regret the remark during his primetime news conference Wednesday night, but wanted to clarify that he was not calling the arresting officer stupid.
Obama felt "cooler heads on all sides should have prevailed" once the officer realized Gates was in his own home, Gibbs said, according to the Associated Press.