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Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: Officer says he used discretion before arresting prof

The Atlanta police officer being investigated for his treatment of a prominent British historian said Tuesday that Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is not the innocent abroad he claims to be.

The Tufts University professor, who was arrested last Thursday and charged with disorderly conduct, contends he was assaulted without provocation for merely jaywalking across Courtland Street. But Officer Kevin Leonpacher insists he is no rogue cop and suggests perhaps the professor is a bit of a scofflaw.

Leonpacher said the professor repeatedly refused to cooperate when asked why he did not heed the officer's instructions.

"I told him, it's gonna be awful silly if I have to take you to jail for jaywalking," said Leonpacher, a native of Niceville, Fla. "I used an excessive amount of discretion."

Or, to hear Fernandez-Armesto's account, an excessive amount of force. They agree on one thing: the author of 19 books, including the (now) ironically titled "Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration," did cross in the middle of the street.

"It did not occur to me that there was anything wrong with what I was doing," said the former Oxford professor.

The five-year Atlanta Police Department veteran said he initiated verbal contact with Fernandez-Armesto before he stepped into the street, directing him to the nearby crosswalk, but said the professor ignored him. Fernandez-Armesto said he didn't know Leonpacher was a police officer....

Related Links

  • Atlanta police report
  • Read entire article at Atlanta Journal-Constitution