WASHINGTON – A grand jury declined to indict Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney on Friday in connection with a confrontation in which she admitted hitting a police officer who tried to stop her from entering a House office building.
The grand jury had been considering the case since shortly after the March 29 incident, which has led to much discussion on Capitol Hill about race and the conduct of lawmakers and the officers who protect them.
"We respect the decision of the grand jury in this difficult matter," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein.
McKinney did not immediately comment.
Wainstein's statement, released late Friday, also included support for the officer involved, Paul McKenna, and the Capitol Police. He said, "This is a tremendously difficult job, and it is one that Officer McKenna and his colleagues perform with the utmost professionalism and dignity."
The encounter began when McKinney tried to enter a House office building without walking through a metal detector or wearing the lapel pin that identifies members of Congress.
McKenna did not recognize her as a member of Congress and asked her three times to stop. When she ignored him, he tried to stop her. McKinney then hit him.
McKinney described the encounter as "racial profiling," insisting she had been assaulted and had done nothing wrong.
McKinney is black. McKenna is white.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus privately urged McKinney to put the matter behind her. The next morning, she appeared on the House floor to apologize.
"I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all, and I regret its escalation, and I apologize," the Georgia Democrat said April 6. "There should not have been any physical contact in this incident."