Cobb County, GA. – A Cobb County police lieutenant has been placed on administrative duty for making comments during a DUI stop that the department deemed were “inappropriate racial comments.”
The interaction, caught on a police dash-cam video, reveals the extreme disconnect between law enforcement and citizens, after an officer tells a woman she is about to be arrested during a DUI stop and informs her to use her cell phone to “call whoever was coming to get you.”
It’s at this point the woman wisely informs the officer that she isn’t able to call, due to her fear of being shot if she attempts to reach for her cell phone in her lap – informing the officer that she doesn’t want to put her hands down, as she says, “I’ve just seen too many videos…” She’s then cut off by Lt. Abbot – making an obvious reference to the plethora of videos available online of police gunning people down for similar movements or less.
It’s at this moment that the officer says the unthinkable to the woman, as he responds to her stated fears of being shot by telling her,
“But you’re not black. Remember, we only kill black people. We only kill black people, right?”
Now, even if the officer was attempting to be ironic, or sarcastic, the fact that a public servant tasked with protecting the peace had the audacity to say something so callous to a citizen during the course of an arrest speaks volumes about the mindset of many cops.
And while blacks are disproportionately killed by police per capita, all Americans are under threat from the scourge of rogue law enforcement agents that are trained to escalate situations, and increase force, rather than de-escalate tense situations — as is done successfully in many other countries.
After the exclusive footage was aired by WSB-TV 2 in Atlanta, Cobb County police Chief Mike Register on Friday opened an internal investigation into the incident. He assigned the officer involved in the incident to administrative duties pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
“No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register noted.
The attorney representing the woman in the case, Suri Chadha Jimenez, said that while he believes the officer was being sarcastic after the woman “gave him some lip,” he noted that behavior such as this from a public servant is completely “unacceptable.”
“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 released an ironic statement to WSB-TV 2 regarding the incident:
“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.”
The idea that telling a white passenger, who is fearful of being shot if they move their hands, that they don’t have anything to fear because they aren’t black is an attempt at de-escalation is patently absurd and reveals an insidious racial bias ingrained within the thin blue line of law enforcement.
In typical fashion Register noted that Abbott had been a good officer and he wasn’t aware of any racial bias complaints, according to WSB-TV 2.
“We’re not making excuses. We’re meeting this head-on and we’re going to deal with it,” Register said.
Typically, in these situations, there is a minor slap on the wrist to appease an angry public, with no real consequences ever being carried out. In fact, even for the most serious of crimes, such as sexual assault accused officers are often allowed to simply resign, thus being able to continue their law enforcement career in another municipality.
The incident took place last year, prior to Register becoming police chief. And while the International Association of Chiefs of Police report gave the Cobb Police Department a high community approval rating prior to this incident, it also noted a perception of discriminatory and biased policing – as clearly evidenced in the words of Lt. Abbot.
In what is likely nothing more than a public relations move, Register said his department had responded to the IACP 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.
When an officer explicitly denotes that “we only kill black people,” it’s clear that the department is not professionally serving “all segments of the community.”
Watch the disturbing dash-cam footage below: