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A senior Capitol Police official said charges were not likely to be filed against Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) after she allegedly struck a Capitol Police officer in the chest with her mobile phone Wednesday.
The altercation between the officer and McKinney took place when the officer asked her to go through the magnetometer at a security checkpoint.
Members are not required to pass through magnetometers, but, according to the police source, the officer did not recognize McKinney, who apparently was sporting a different hairstyle than she usually does.
Details of the event were still unclear at press time, but according to the source, the unidentified officer asked McKinney to go through the magnetometer at one of the House Office Buildings “a couple times,” but she refused.
The officer then grabbed McKinney’s arm and restrained her, which prompted her to yell: “Don’t touch me.” McKinney then hit the officer in the chest with her phone, the source said.
It was unclear if McKinney had on her Congressional lapel pin, which is one method that officers use to identify Members.
“She certainly can be charged over this, but I don’t know it warrants that action,” the source said.
Sources on both sides of the aisle confirmed that the officer involved had met with outgoing Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer and House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood afterwards to discuss the incident.
McKinney, who has been a lightning rod for controversy in her tenure on Capitol Hill, had no comment as Roll Call went to press Wednesday.
The Capitol Police remained officially mum about the incident.
“The matter has been brought to our attention and is currently under investigation,” said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, the agency’s public information officer. “I don’t have any specific information.”
Rumors about the incident rapidly spread via e-mail across Capitol Hill Wednesday, as staffers on both the House and Senate side traded gossip about the incident.
Republicans had a field day.
The National Republican Congressional Committee pointed out that the incident occurred on a day when Democrats unveiled their agenda on national security.
“Today’s ironic one-two punch from National Democrats trying to look tough on security finds Cynthia McKinney attacking a member of the law enforcement community,” NRCC Director Carl Forti said in a statement. “When we said Democrats were all talk and no action on security, we did not mean to provoke them to take matters into their own cell phone-clutching hands.”
Sean Spicer, communications director for the House Republican Conference, echoed Forti’s sentiments.
“It is just ironic that on a day that they were trying to gather for a media stunt on the issue of security, one of their Members struck a Capitol police officer, who puts his life on the line every day to secure this building, Members and staff,” Spicer said. “I don’t care what day of the week it is, you don’t ever treat a law enforcement officer with that type of treatment.”
The senior police source said that while Wednesday’s event was unfortunate, the issue had basically been settled.