A police lieutenant in Georgia faces an internal investigation after his superiors unearthed dashcam footage recorded last year in which he says officers “only kill black people.”
In the July 2016 footage, first reported by a local Atlanta television station, a white woman who had been pulled over can be heard telling a Cobb County officer that she was scared to put her hands down because she had “seen way too many videos of cops.” The officer interrupts her and says, “But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people. Yeah. We only kill black people, right?”
The officer, identified by his attorney as Lt. Greg Abbott, a 27-year veteran of the department, has been moved to administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation, authorities said.
“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,” Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register said in a statement.
Abbott’s lawyer, Lance LoRusso, said his client was cooperating with the internal investigation.
“His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context,” LoRusso said in a 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.”
The date of the incident was not immediately clear. It happened the same month that Baton Rouge police fatally shot Alton Sterling during a confrontation outside a convenience store and a suburban Minneapolis officer fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop. And it came in the wake of several other high-profile police shootings of black men, many of which sparked protests.
A study released in May of this year said Cobb County police must face up to public perceptions of racism and discriminatory policing. The study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police encouraged the department to keep track of what happens when officers interact with people of different races, “given the societal concerns over biased policing.”