Officer to woman during traffic stop: ‘We only kill black people, right?’
COBB COUNTY, GA (WSB-TV) — Exclusive dash-cam video obtained by Channel 2 Action News caught an officer’s interaction with a woman who said she was afraid to move her hands during a traffic stop.
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.
“Remember, we only kill black people. We only kill black people, right?” the Cobb County police officer can be heard saying on the video.
On Friday, they opened an internal investigation.
Register said the officer heard on video is Lt. Greg Abbott. Register said Abbott has been assigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
According to Register, the recording is part of a 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.
“No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register said.
Suri Chadha Jimenez, who is representing the driver in the case, said he believes 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.
Jimenez says the fear minorities have when stopped is real.
Abbott’s attorney Lance LoRusso gave Channel 2 Action News the following 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.”
Register said Abbott had been a good officer and he wasn’t aware of any racial bias complaints.
“We’re not making excuses. We’re meeting this head-on and we’re going to deal with it,” Register said.
According to Register, the incident happened last year, before he became chief. This was also before an International Association of Chiefs of Police report gave the Cobb Police Department a high community approval rating, but also mentioned a perception of discriminatory and biased policing.
Register said they’ve responded to the report by instituting a faith forum, precinct discussion groups, training changes and more.
“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.