I appreciated the link to the audiotape. I'm going to be a little drole and intone: The neighbor on the phone wins.
She sounds like she had a more balanced day than any of the other players I've heard from.
First, an observation: It's bad interview procedure to offer witnesses a multiple choice list of ethnicities. It actually encourages people to pick from the list they are offered, not to report what they actually saw (or didn't). What if a witness had actually just barely glimpsed a Native American male and mentioned that to the caller, but here is the operator saying repeatedly amidst all this, "Are they White, Black, or Hispanic?" It is better to make open-ended questions: "Describe them more," or "What race or ethnicity?"
Basically, I agree with what Obama said given the broader historical and political context.
Just as a matter of political finesse, I might prefer he had searched longer for a word with an obvious alternative to aspire to. Hasty, preemptive, uninformed, ill-considered, unnecessary, swaggering...
"Stupid" could apply, but it has a kind of banal edge to it -- and too many potential alternative meanings.
I do think the police could have taken a better look around (is the guy's wallet really the only evidence he lives there?), they could have made a call (it's not like he was running away). Their precinct could have known something about a Black Harvard professor in their reportedly rather White area. They could have left without arresting the guy for simply being upset or referring to questions of race (whether eloquently or more in exasperation, that shouldn't make a huge difference). Whatever the officer felt like at the moment, the arrest made the entire situation racialized as a political event. As Obama stated, it's well known that Blacks are much more likely to be detained for dubious or non-reasons than Whites in similar circumstances.
Now, I'm White and I have personally encountered certain other police officers who will not deign to act civil or even follow all applicable laws if their actions are questioned in any way (I was not yelling, but neither did I get treatment attorneys confirmed would be appropriate). It is possible the policeman really had an issue with anyone talking about race in that situation. It would be equally plausible to me that he just wanted to make a show of "taking control."
Whatever his motives (or mix of them), if he had happened to arrest another random Black in this country on flimsy grounds, odds are good it would not be a Harvard professor of Afro-American Studies and we would never hear about it. And that happens more often for Blacks (and I believe for Latinos too?) than Whites whenever the question arises: They are often busted without good cause, and there is silence... Unless there was a major drug bust, or perhaps a white woman inside, ideally blonde for a longer news cycle. Then we would hear over and over, and over.