A Georgia police officer has been accused of making racist statements to a woman during a traffic stop, telling her the that police officers “only shoot black people.”
Dash cam video shows the Cobb County officer, who has been identified 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 shoot black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All of the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the black people get killed? You have.”
Cobb County police Chief Mike Register told ABC affiliate WSB that Abbott has been reassigned to administrative duties during an internal investigation into the incident.
Register said that the officer’s statements were not indicative of values held by the Cobb County Police Department.
“No matter what context it was said in, it should not have been said,” he told WSB, which first obtained the footage.
“We’re not making excuses. We’re meeting this head-on and we’re going to deal with it,” Register added. “We are going to keep going forward to make sure that we, as a police department, service the community in the most professional way — all segments of the community.”
The police department could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
But Abbott’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, said in a statement to The Washington Post that Abbott, a 27-year veteran on the force, is cooperating with the internal investigation.
“His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context,” he said in the statement. “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.”
Suri Chadha Jimenez, an attorney who represented the driver in the DUI case, said the video was taken in July 2016.
Jimenez told The Post on Thursday that he had reviewed the video footage in preparation for court last summer and he was “shocked” when he heard the officer’s statements.
“I heard that, and I cringed. I had to replay it. I thought, ‘there’s no way,’” he said.
Jimenez said that he believes the officer was being sarcastic with the passenger for giving him “lip” but that it was still no excuse. “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.
This story has been updated.