The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -A suspended Boston police officer apologized for using a racial slur to describe black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in an e-mail, saying he made a poor choice of words, didn't mean to offend anyone and isn't racist.

The police commissioner put 36-year-old Justin Barrett on administrative leave pending a termination hearing after learning of the slur. Barrett is a member of the National Guard and has been suspended from his military duties pending an investigation.

In an interview with WCVB-TV, Barrett says he is sorry about what he wrote and was just venting. He says he always treats people with dignity and respect.

Gates was arrested in his home July 16 by a white police officer responding to a report of a possible burglary. The charge was later dropped.