When Sergeant James M. Crowley climbed the front steps of Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s house last week and unexpectedly placed himself in international headlines, it was not the first time he had a memorable encounter in the line of duty with a prominent black man. Nearly 16 years ago, as a Brandeis University police officer, Crowley desperately tried to save the life of Reggie Lewis after the Boston Celtics star collapsed while practicing in the school gym.
“It bothers him terribly that he couldn’t save him,’’ Crowley’s 74-year-old mother, Verina Crowley, said yesterday, speaking of her son and the famous basketball player.
Yesterday, as President Obama condemned the Cambridge Police Department during a prime-time White House news conference and Crowley steadfastly refused to issue the apol ogy that Gates has sought, a fuller picture began to emerge of the 42-year-old sergeant who arrested the Harvard scholar last week on a charge of disorderly conduct on the porch of Gates’s Cambridge house.
Crowley was a certified emergency medical technician when he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Lewis, to no avail, after the player’s heart stopped on July 27, 1993. In a Globe interview later that day, Crowley said he rushed to the university’s Shapiro Gymnasium, confirmed that Lewis had no pulse, and frantically tried to revive him.
“I just kept on going,’’ he said. “I just kept thinking, ‘Don’t let him die - just don’t die.’ ’’ (continues at Boston Globe)