COBB COUNTY, Ga. (WSB-TV/WJBF) – The Cobb County Police Department plans to fire an officer caught on camera telling a woman during a traffic stop, “We only kill black people.”
Channel 2 Action News exclusively obtained dash cam video that caught an officer’s interaction with a woman who said she was afraid to move her hands during a traffic stop.
“Remember, we only kill black people. We only kill black people, right?” the officer responds.
Cobb County police Chief Mike Register told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne that after Channel 2 Action News submitted an open-records request, he and his command staff looked at the video and opened an internal investigation.
“There’s really no place for these types of comments in law enforcement,” Register said during a news conference Thursday. “I don’t know what was in his heart, but I know what came out of his mouth. In no context can I tolerate this type of language.”
Register said the officer heard on video is Lt. Greg Abbott., who has been on the force for 25 years.
According to Register, the recording is part of a July 2016 DUI stop. The woman said she was hesitant to put her hands down to pick up a cellphone because she didn’t want to get shot.
Abbott’s attorney, Lance Lorusso, told Winne, “(Abbott) 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.”
Suri Chadha Jimenez, who is representing the driver in the case, said he believes the officer was being sarcastic.
“It makes you cringe when you hear it. It’s unacceptable,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez says the fear minorities have when stopped is real.
Register said Abbott made a mistake, but those types of comments will never be tolerated in his department.
“No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register said. “This badge should mean that there is justice and fairness for all and that is certainly what we strive to do here in Cobb County.”
Register said the recommendation is to fire Abbott and they are putting the plans into motion to make that happen.