A Georgia police officer was caught on dashcam video telling a woman, “Remember, we only kill black people” during a traffic stop.
On the video, a car was pulled over on suspicion of DUI in July 2016. When the Cobb County police officer approached the vehicle, a female passenger was heard saying that she did not want to put her hands up to reach for her phone. “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops —.”
“But you’re not black,” the officer interjected. “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.”
The tape was obtained by a local TV station, and the officer was identified as Lt. Greg Abbott, a 27-year veteran of the force. He was placed on administrative duties pending investigation.
Abbott’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, said Abbott is cooperating. “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.”
The police chief isn’t buying that one. “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,” said Chief Mike Register in a statement.
The driver’s attorney, who settled the DUI case last month, said he was “shocked” by the tape. “I heard that and cringed,” said Suri Chadha Jimenez, who added that he thought the officer was being sarcastic. And yet, “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.”