A Georgia police officer has been accused of making racist statements to a woman during a traffic stop, telling her that the police officers “only kill black people.”
Dash-cam video shows the Cobb County officer, who has been identified by local news organizations as police Lt. Greg Abbott, standing outside a vehicle during a DUI traffic stop in July 2016.
The woman, who was a passenger in the vehicle, can be heard telling the officer that she did not want to put her hands down to reach for her phone because “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops —.”
“But you’re not black,” he interrupted. “Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen black people get killed? You have.”
Cobb County police said Wednesday that Chief Mike Register received information late last week about an officer making “inappropriate racial comments,” which were captured on video obtained by ABC affiliate WSB.
The department said that the police officer was placed on administrative duties during an internal investigation.
Abbott’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, said Abbott, a 27-year veteran on the force, is cooperating with investigators.
“His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context,” LoRusso said in the statement Thursday to The Washington Post. “He was attempting to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger. In context, his comments were clearly aimed at attempting to gain compliance by using the passenger’s own statements and reasoning to avoid making an arrest.”
But the police chief said there was no excuse.
“No matter what the context, statements like these are unacceptable and are not indicative of the type of culture we are trying to facilitate here in the police department, as well as within the county,” he said in a statement.
Suri Chadha Jimenez, an attorney who represented the driver in the DUI case, said that he had seen the video while preparing for court last summer and was “shocked” by what he had heard.
“I heard that, and I cringed. I had to replay it. I thought, ‘There’s no way,’ ” he said.
He said he thinks the officer was being sarcastic with the passenger for giving him “lip.”
“The reality is, to us minorities, there is a real fear when you’re pulled over,” he said. “He thought it was a joke, but it’s not a joke to many people.”
Jimenez, whose client’s case was resolved last month, said he’s glad the video has been exposed and hopes it will prompt the police department to provide training for its officers.