- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

NEW YORK A black van carrying Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and driven by a U.S. Secret Service agent reportedly talking on his cell phone rolled through a checkpoint at Westchester County airport Sunday, injuring a policeman who tried to stop them first by shouting and then by banging on the side of the moving vehicle.

Law enforcement officials called it "a misunderstanding."

Police Officer Ernest Dymond, a 19-year veteran of the force, was one of three uniformed officers manning the sensitive checkpoint when the security detail for the New York Democrat approached the airport. As at many airports throughout the country, the Yonkers airport is on high alert for any sign of terrorist activity.

Officer Dymond, 47, said Mrs. Clinton's van approached the checkpoint at about 35 mph. The driver, he said, was talking on a cell phone as he yelled for him to stop, but only after the police officer threw his shoulder into the van while banging on its side did the vehicle come to a halt about 100 yards beyond the checkpoint. He described the agent driving as "quite agitated" when asked to show his identification. The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment of bruises.

"I didn't know if we had a terrorist," Officer Dymond said of the driver, "and once I found out who he was, I was even more agitated that he, of all people, should have known."

The police officer said he had no conversation with Mrs. Clinton, who was on her way to a private aircraft waiting to take her to a fund-raiser in Syracuse. Her spokesman, Peter Kauffmann, said, "This is not something Senator Clinton had any involvement in."

Detective William Rehm of the Westchester County Police Department said a prior arrangement had been worked out with the Secret Service for the police to escort Mrs. Clinton's van from the airport entrance to a hanger. "Why didn't they wait for the escort?" he asked.

Larry Saez, the Secret Service resident agent in charge of the county, said the Secret Service had no intention of violating security arrangements. He described the incident as "a nonissue."

Secret Service spokesman Tony Ball in Washington said there was "a little confusion" as to whether the motorcade was to proceed or stop, but it was quickly resolved. "Some cops were waving him in and others were saying stop," he said.

A source within the Westchester County Police Department also characterized the incident as a misunderstanding, adding, "I'm not a big fan of hers, but it would be unfair to accuse her of having anything to do with this."

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