A Georgia cop is in hot water after his car’s dash cam caught him making light of racism in the police force.
In July, Officer Lt. Greg Abbott of Cobb County pulled over a suspect during a DUI stop and requested that the white passenger put her hands down. In response, the passenger said she did not want to put her hands down because she’d “just seen way too many videos of cops,” implying that the officer was about to shoot her. Abbott quickly interrupted the passenger.
“But you’re not Black,” the officer said, according to Atlanta’s WSB-TV, which recently obtained the dash cam footage. “Remember, we only shoot Black people. Yeah. We only kill Black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the Black people get killed?”
The police department has since opened an internal investigation into the comments, with Abbott assigned to administrative duties until investigators reach a conclusion. Police Chief Mike Register has criticized Abbott’s statements, yet defended the lieutenant as a “good officer” with no racial complaints filed against him.
“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,” Register said, according to Cleveland.com.
Abbott’s lawyer, Lance LoRusso, alleges that the officer was trying to “de-escalate a situation” with an “uncooperative” passenger. He suggests the comments were supposed to gain the passenger’s compliance.
“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,” LoRusso said, Cleveland.com reports.
Whether Abbott’s comments come out of racial malice or not, they trivialize police brutality in an attempt to calm down a white passenger. They make light of the American police force’s ongoing violence against the Black community, with deaths at the hands of officers in New York, Seattle, Baton Rouge—just about anywhere in the United States. Even if Abbott’s comments were an attempt to “de-escalate,” there’s a much larger problem at play if comforting a white person at the expense of a Black one is the go-to answer for police.
Update 9:45am CT, Sept. 1: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Abbott sent an email to the county on Thursday announcing his retirement. At the same time, the police chief was giving a press conference saying Abbott would be fired. Commission Chairman Mike Boyce said he was unsure how his email would affect the department’s firing decision.