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US police officer cleared by investigation into British historian’s arrest

A British historian says he is not satisfied with theresults of an Atlanta Police Department investigation into his arrest after ajaywalking incident while he attended a conference in the city.

The internal investigation concluded that Officer KevinLeonpacher acted appropriately when he arrested Felipe Fernandez-Armesto indowntown Atlanta six months ago.

Police spokesman Judy Pal noted that Fernandez-Armesto wasnot arrested for jaywalking.

“He was arrested for disobeying a lawful order from apolice officer,” Pal said.

Fernandez-Armesto called the investigation “profoundlyincompetent.”

“My goodwill is not inexhaustible,” he said in atelephone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m not goingto let this go.”

He said he has hired an attorney and is considering legalaction, the newspaper reported in its story for its Thursday edition.

Fernandez-Armesto said he was not aware that Leonpacher wasa policeman when the officer tried to stop him from crossing the street infront of his hotel, without using a crosswalk. He said also that jaywalking isnot illegal in Britain.

The professor insists he was polite in his response, butLeonpacher said he was belligerent and arrested him.

Fernandez-Armesto said he has scars on his head from thescuffle. He also said he was not contacted by investigators for his side of thestory. Police said they tried to reach the author by telephone.

The police summary of the investigation includes interviewsfrom eyewitnesses who believed Fernandez-Armesto to be in the wrong. Some wereofficers on the scene, two others were civilians. Each told a similar accountbacking the officer’s story.

But Rick Shenkman, editor of the History News Network, saidthroughout the conference there were complaints about police harassingpedestrians.

“It was constant, nonstop,” said Shenkman, anassociate professor of history at George Mason University in Virginia.

Shenkman backs Fernandez-Armesto’s assertion that Leonpacherwas not easily identified as a police officer, although the officer said he waswearing a bomber jacket with “Atlanta Police” emblazoned on thesleeves.

Another participant in the conference, Monica Ricketts, aPh.D. student at Harvard University, said she was accosted by an officer whilecrossing the street where Fernandez-Armesto was arrested.

“He started yelling at us, blowing a whistle as we werecrossing the street,” she said. “He got in my face and was pointinghis finger at me. It was so bizarre.”

– Associated Press

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