A veteran Georgia police officer is on leave after unearthed video shows him telling a woman she wouldn’t be shot because she wasn’t black.
“Remember, we only kill black people,” Cobb County police Lt. Gregg Abbott said on dashcam video obtained by WSB-TV. “We only kill black people, right?”
The incident occurred sometime last year, but was only recently obtained by the network — prompting Cobb County police to open an investigation.
Abbott pulled the sedan over for a DUI stop, and told a woman in the passenger seat to use the cellphone in her lap.
The woman tells the 28-year police veteran she’s afraid to move her hands.
“I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops,” the woman says before Abbott cuts her off.
“But you’re not black,” he says. “Remember, we only shoot black people.”
“All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen black people getting killed?” he asks the frightened woman, to which she says, “Right.”
Abbott was put on administrative leave until the investigation is over.
“No matter what the context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register told WSB-TV.
Up until this point Abbott was a quality officer, Register told the channel, adding the incident happened before he became police chief.
“We’re not making excuses,” he said. “We’re meeting this head-on and we’re going to deal with it.”
Suri Chadha Jimenez, the woman’s lawyer in the DUI case, said Abbott was likely being sarcastic because the woman “gave him some lip.”
But that still doesn’t take away from the horror.
“It makes you cringe when you hear it,” Jimenez told WSB-TV. “It’s unacceptable.”
Abbott’s attorney said the statements were taken out of context and the veteran lawman was trying to control the situation.
“He was attempting to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger,” lawyer Lance LoRusso said in a statement to WSB-TV. “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 International Association of Chiefs of Police gave the Cobb County department high ranks for community relations — after the incident happened — although it did show signs of discrimination and bias.
“We are going to keep going forward to make sure we, as a police department, service the community in a most professional way — all segments of the community,” Register told the news channel.