A police officer in Georgia has left his position after he was recorded on a dashboard camera trying to convince a white woman that she had nothing to worry about during a traffic stop because she was not black. The Cobb County Police Department said on Thursday that it was “moving forward” with the process to “terminate” the employment of the officer, Lt. Greg Abbott. He retired on the same day, the department confirmed on Friday.
The video, obtained by WSB Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta, shows Lieutenant Abbott standing at the side of a car during a traffic stop last year. He tells the woman, a passenger, that she could use her cellphone. “It’s in your lap right there,” he says. She replies that she does not want to move her hands, saying she has seen “way too many videos” about how the police behave at traffic stops. “But you’re not black,” Lieutenant Abbott replies. “Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah. We only kill black people, right?” WSB-TV published an excerpt from the interaction on Thursday after it obtained the video through an open-records request.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Chief Mike Register of the Cobb County Police Department said the comments were “inexcusable and inappropriate.” “I’ve known Lieutenant Abbott for a number of years, and I’ve always perceived him to be an honorable man. But he made a mistake,” Chief Register said, adding that the department had begun the process of firing him. On Friday, Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce said that Lieutenant Abbott submitted his retirement request, and had it approved, on the day of the news conference. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Sam Heaton, Cobb County’s public safety director, said that Lieutenant Abbott “did request an immediate retirement and we have approved his request. He is entitled to his full retirement benefits and would have been even if terminated.”