COBB COUNTY, Ga. – A Georgia police officer was recorded telling a woman “You’re not black. Remember, we only kill black people,” during a DUI traffic stop last year.
The incident occurred on July of 2016, but Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register was notified of the dashboard video late last week, according to the department. The video surfaced after WSB submitted an open-records request.
The department is going to fire the officer in the video, identified as Lieutenant Greg Abbott, who was placed on administrative duties during the investigation.
Announcing his decision to fire Abbott, Police Chief Mike Register remarked that “there’s really no place for these types of comments in law enforcement.” Speaking at a news conference, Register added, “I feel that no matter what context you try to take those comments in, the statements were inexcusable and inappropriate. They’re not indicative of the values that I’m trying to instill within the Cobb County police department and that I believe the county holds.”
Register said he learned of the comments after television station WSB-TV obtained the video and made the department aware of it. Abbott, who had been an officer for 28 years, was placed on administrative duties while the department investigated the video.
Abbott’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, did not immediately respond to an email Thursday seeking comment on the firing. He had earlier said in a statement that Abbott was cooperating with the investigation, and his comments were meant to “de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger.”
Register said he’s worked hard since becoming chief in June to strengthen the relationship between the department and the community.
“It’s sad to think that several seconds of video has the potential of tearing that apart, and I hope that is not the case,” he said, later adding, “This badge and this uniform should mean that there’s justice and fairness for all.”
During the caught-on-camera exchange, Abbott informs the woman that she’s going to jail, and tells her to call the person coming to pick her up to let that person know.
The woman says she didn’t want to reach down for her phone for fear of being shot, adding, “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops … ”
“But you’re not black,” Abbott says, interrupting her. “Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you only seen black people get killed? You have.”
Chief Register said in a statement, “No matter what the context, statements like these are unacceptable and are not indicative of the type of culture we are trying to facilitate here in the police department, as well as within the county.”
The driver’s attorney, Suri Chadha Jimenez, told the Washington Post he was shocked by the video, saying it made him cringe. “I had to replay it. I thought, ‘There’s no way.'”
Chadha said he thought the officer might have been being sarcastic after the passenger talked back to him, saying, “He thought it was a joke, but it’s not a joke to many people.”
“I have seen the video and obviously have great concerns,” said Cobb County Chairman Mike Boyce in a statement to WGCL. “I find the comments on the video repugnant and offensive beyond measure. I have personally spoken with Mrs. Deane Bonner of the Cobb NAACP and Ben Williams, chairman of the Cobb chapter of the SCLC and expressed my deep disappointment about this behavior. I have been assured that we will take quick and decisive action.”
CNN contributed to this report.