In an interview to air Tuesday on CNN, Powell was asked whether Gates, who goes by the nickname "Skip," was wrong to argue with the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass., police, ABC News reported.
"I am saying Skip, perhaps in this instance, might have waited a while, come outside, talked to the officer, and that might have been the end of it," Powell responded. "I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal."
Police arrested Gates, a professor of African-American studies at Harvard University, July 16 after responding to a 911 call about a possible break-in at his Cambridge home. He and a taxi driver who brought him from the airport had tried to force a stuck door open. Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, which was dropped.
The issue "might well have been resolved in a different matter" if Gates and the sergeant did not argue, Powell said.