On Thursday, Aug. 31, Cobb County Police announced plans to terminate Lt. Greg Abbott following backlash over police dash cam video showing the lieutenant make controversial remarks during a traffic stop.
A Cobb County police officer has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation into “inappropriate racial comments” he made during a traffic stop last year.
Exclusive dash cam footage obtained by local station WSB-TV captured Lt. Greg Abbott’s interaction with a female driver during a DUI traffic stop. In the video, the woman says she’s too scared to move her hands to grab for her cellphone because, “I have just seen way too many videos of cops …”
That’s when Abbott cuts her off.
“But you’re not Black. Remember, we only shoot Black people,” the 28-year police veteran is heard saying. “Yeah. We only kill Black people, right? All the videos you have seen, have you seen the Black people get killed?”
The station’s open-records request into the incident prompted the department’s command staff to review the video, Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register said. On Friday, Aug. 25, they launched an internal investigation.
A statement from the department said Register had just learned of the footage, as the incident happened last year before he became police chief.
“No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register told WSB-TV. “We’re 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.”
The encounter also comes after the International Association of Chiefs of Police report gave the Cobb Police Department a high community-approval rating but noted that it needed to address perceptions of racism and discriminatory conduct, according to the news station.
Suri Chadha Jimenez, who’s representing the driver in the case, said he feels 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.
Register told WSB-TV that Abbott was a good officer and that he wasn’t aware of any complaints of racial bias.
“We’re not making excuses,” he said. “We’re meeting this head-on and we’re going to deal with it.”
Lance LoRusso, Abbott’s attorney, provided the station with 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.”