By Ben Brasch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A police lieutenant in Cobb County, Ga., has been moved to administrative duty for making what the department deemed were “inappropriate racial comments” during a traffic stop last year.
WSB-TV reported that its request for body camera footage of the incident prompted an internal investigation of Lt. Greg Abbott.
The footage shows a white female driver pulled over during a DUI traffic stop telling Abbott that she is scared to move her hands in order to get her cellphone, because, she says, “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops- ”
At that point, she is cut off by Abbott.
“But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people,” the police veteran of nearly three decades can be heard saying. “Yeah. We only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the black people get killed?”
The footage is from July 2016, before Mike Register took over as chief of Cobb police.
Chief Register said that Abbott will remain on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation, for which he didn’t give a timeline.
A statement Wednesday from the department said Register just found out about the recording Friday.
“No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register told WSB-TV.
Suri Chadha Jimenez, who is representing the driver in the case, said he thinks the officer was being sarcastic after the woman “gave him some lip.”
“It makes you cringe when you hear it. It’s unacceptable,” Jimenez said.
Lance LoRusso, Abbott’s attorney, gave the station this statement:
Lt. Greg Abbott is a highly respected 28-year veteran of the Cobb County Police Department. He is cooperating with the department’s internal investigation and will continue to do so. His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context. 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.
In the police statement, Cobb County commission chairman Mike Boyce is quoted as saying: “I have seen the video and obviously have great concerns. I find the comments on the video repugnant and offensive beyond measure.”
This comes a day after the department released information about an officer-involved shooting that wounded a 16-year-old in the upper thigh. The shooting was deemed justifiable by a grand jury.
“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 said.
This post was originally published in August 2017.