WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Rep. Christopher Shays apologized Friday for a loud and angry altercation he had a day earlier with a Capitol Police officer, saying he behaved "in a way I know was not appropriate."
Shays spokesman John Cardarelli said the incident took place at the West Front entrance to the Capitol during a rainstorm when the congressman was trying to locate a group of his Connecticut constituents who were coming for a Capitol tour.
An intern had gotten lost with the group and had difficulty describing where they were to Shays, who asked to speak to the police officer. The officer refused, saying it was against policy to accept phone calls while on duty.
Shays eventually found the group and went to them, but the police officer refused to allow them to enter the building through the West Front entrance, which is off-limits to tourists. Shays, Cardarelli said, grabbed the officer's lapel "to look at his name badge" and shouted at him.
"I know Chris swore, and he probably did use the f-bomb," Cardarelli told CNN.
Shays later told CNN he did not remember grabbing the officer's lapel, but he said he was angry and frustrated at not being able to locate the group and get them inside out of the rain.
"The one thing I do remember is wanting to know who it was - I couldn't see the badge well," he said. "I didn't make a fist - that i'm sure of."
"I shouldn't have argued with an officer" or touched his badge, he said, and "I regret doing it."
Shays also said that the point of his apology was "that I don't want anything that I did to reflect on" the officer.
Earlier in the day both Shays and Cardarelli said the characterization of the incident had been "overblown." Shays, in fact, said it "wasn't even close" to an altercation.
But after Capitol Police issued a statement on the incident, Shays issued a statement of his own with an apology.
"Although my focus was in trying to locate my constituents and get them to a dry location, I know I clearly could have handled the situation with the officer in a more professional and respectful way, and I regret I did not do so," Shays said in his statement, adding that he has "respect and admiration" for the "difficult mission" of the Capitol Police. "They deserve all of our respect and admiration, and I apologize that even for a few moments my behavior did not reflect my appreciation of that fact," he said.
The congressman added that he hopes to "meet with the officer and apologize to him in person" when he returns to Washington on Monday.
In its statement, Capitol Police said the officer "took offense to the manner in which the congressman spoke to him and said that the congressman also reached out and touched his name tag."
The officer filed "a courtesy complaint" against Shays, the statement said, prompting a meeting between Chief of Police Phillip D. Morse Sr., Assistant Chief of Police Dan Nichols and Shays.
Shays "acknowledged he acted inappropriately in the heat of the moment and took full responsibility for his actions," the statement said.
Earlier Lou Cannon, head of Washington's chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, also said the incident had been blown out of proportion.
"Everyone's trying to make this sound like another Cynthia McKinney situation, but it's no where close to that," Cannon said. "Words were exchanged, but there was no striking, no hitting, no grabbing. There was no touching."
McKinney was a Georgia congresswoman in April 2006 when she was accused of assaulting a Capitol Police officer who did not recognize her at a security checkpoint. A grand jury refused to indict her, however.
She was defeated by DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson in her bid for re-election at the Democratic primary in July 2006. Johnson won the general election in November.