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Congresswoman Says Officer Started Altercation at Capitol

April 01, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, the Georgia congresswoman who had an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, said Friday that the officer started the incident by "inappropriately touching and stopping" her after she walked past a security checkpoint.

McKinney, speaking at a news conference where she was joined by singer Harry Belafonte and actor Danny Glover, said she understood that a case against her could be referred for prosecution but declared that she would be exonerated.

"Let me be clear. This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman," McKinney said. "I deeply regret that this incident occurred."

McKinney, a Democrat, declined to discuss the incident further because she might be charged with striking the officer Wednesday after she entered a House office building and did not stop when asked.

McKinney and her two lawyers refused to say whether she hit the officer or how he touched her inappropriately.

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.

James W. Myart Jr., one of McKinney's lawyers, said he would be seeking an investigation against the officer, who has not been identified.

"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," he said.

Belafonte and Glover said they were there as a show of support for the fiery six-term congresswoman.

"She alone has stood up for issues that are important to this country and important to the world," Glover said. "We're not here to judge the merits of the case; we're here to support our sister."

A spokeswoman for U.S. Capitol Police did not 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."

Several Capitol Police officials have said that 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.

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