The Cobb County, Ga., police officer who was seen in shocking dashcam footage telling a white female passenger that she would not be harmed during a DUI traffic stop because police “only kill black people” retired Thursday after officials in the department sought his termination.
Another cop out via cop-out, it seems. Is police accountability even a thing?
Anyway, according to BuzzFeed, after watching the footage and conducting a brief internal investigation, Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register announced Thursday that the Police Department was going to fire Lt. Greg Abbott, slamming his comments made last year during the stop as “inexcusable and inappropriate.”
“I’ve known Abbott for a number of years, always perceived him to be an honorable man, and he made a mistake,” Register said, according to the site. “I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I know what’s in his mouth, and it’s not appropriate.”
When Abbott was notified about his upcoming termination, the lieutenant opted to retire Thursday afternoon, his attorney, Lance LoRusso, confirmed.
Although Abbott’s grossly inappropriate comments were made a year ago, new attention was brought to the case after video footage surfaced showing the encounter.
In the video, Abbott could be seen talking to the woman, who expressed concern for her safety, saying that she was afraid to put her hands down to get her cellphone because “she’s seen way too many videos of cops ... ”
That was when Abbott, in an attempt to comfort her (I guess?), could be heard telling her, “But you’re not black. Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah. We only kill black people, right?”
“All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen any white people get killed?” he added.
LoRusso, Abbott’s attorney, attempted to explain away the officer’s statements, saying that he was just trying to de-escalate the situation after the woman refused to cooperate.
“You can hear that on the video. He was using her reasoning and statements, trying to get her to comply with his request that she call someone to get her from the scene,” LoRusso said, according to BuzzFeed.
Register also said that Abbott was being sarcastic, but said that did not excuse the comments (because it truly doesn’t).
“It’s hard to put those statements into any type of context that makes them appropriate,” the chief said.
According to BuzzFeed, the night of the fateful stop, around 3 a.m. on July 10, 2016, Abbott pulled over the vehicle after suspecting the driver of driving under the influence. The driver was identified as a Latino man, while the woman, who was in the passenger seat at the time of the interaction, is Greek but identifies as a minority, according to the driver’s lawyer, Surinder Chadha Jimenez.
Jimenez added that the duo was pulled over just days after Philando Castile’s fatal shooting by now-former Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez in Minnesota, which impacted the woman’s response to the officer.
“I’m sure that was in the back of her head when this was going on,” Jimenez said. “It’s not an irrational fear. Minorities are scared when they are pulled over.”
Jimenez also praised the police chief for his “bold and brave” decision to take swift action and decide to fire Abbott.
“My client and the passenger [were] afraid there would be some retaliation after this came out, but they are glad it’s out there,” he said. “It brings exposure and awareness to what many minorities feel when they interact with police.”
Read more at BuzzFeed.