An Atlanta police officer has been fired for making racist comments during a July 2016 traffic stop (video below).
Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register made the announcement on Aug. 31, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As Inquisitr notes, it's not clear whether the officer was fired or pre-emptively retired.
The officer, Lt. Greg Abbott, told a woman passenger in the car he stopped that "we only shoot black people," which was captured on police video. The incident was first reported on Aug. 30 by CNN affiliate WSB-TV in response to an open records request.
The male driver of the car was arrested for DUI and placed in the squad car, explained the man's attorney, Suri Chadha Jimenez.
The woman was waiting for someone to pick her up from the scene. While she waited, the exchange with Abbott occurred.
"She does have a legitimate concern," Chadha Jimenez said. "I think it was an honestly felt response but the officer's response mocked her, which wasn't professional. What bothers me is that he didn't take her concern seriously."
In the clip, the woman tells Abbott she is afraid to reach for her cellphone because "I've just seen way too many videos of cops ... "
To which Abbott replies: "But you're not black. 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?"
Register acknowledged the internal review suggested Abbott was attempting to invoke "a sarcastic standpoint" to handle the situation, reports CNN.
Register noted that was not a valid excuse for what Abbott said.
"In my opinion, I feel that no matter what context you try to take those comments in, the statements were inexcusable and inappropriate and they're not indicative of the values that I'm trying to instill within the Cobb County Police Department and I believe that the county holds."
Deane Bonner, president of the Cobb County branch of the NAACP, issued a measured response.
"We know police officers get up every day and protect and serve, but this was so cavalier," she said. "I want to be fair to him and we believe in due process, but as the leader of an organization that deals with people who go through this every day, this strikes a real chord with us."
Abbott's attorney, Lance LoRusso, argued that Abbott's "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."
Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce agreed with Chief Register that the context was irrelevant. "I have seen the video and obviously have great concerns," said Boyce. "I find the comments on the video repugnant and offensive beyond measure."