Cobb County’s police chief said Thursday it was in the process of firing an officer who was shown in a recording making racially charged statements at a traffic stop last July.
The officer, Lt. Greg Abbott, is shown in a dashcam recording telling a woman who’s worried about reaching for her cellphone – “But you’re not black. Remember, we only kill black people.”
Abbott’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, said late Thursday that Abbott made the decision to retire after 27 years of service.
In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Cobb's Police Chief Mike Register said the comments weren’t justified.
“I feel that no matter what context you try to take those comments in, the statements were inexcusable and inappropriate,” he said.
Abbott's attorney said early Thursday that his client was attempting to de-escalate the situation with the driver.
Register, who became chief three months ago, said the department has been working to build trust with the community.
“Those comments have now caused the men and women who are currently working on the street right now today to go out and attempt to regain the public trust that was lost by those comments,” he said.
Register said the department is now looking into how dashcam videos are reviewed. He said Abbott was a supervisor, and supervisors reviewed such recordings.
“It’s certainly reinforces the need for good, positive leadership out in the field,” he said.
Black community leaders applauded Register's quick action.
"Although we applaud them for their transparency in this regard, the officer's interjection of race into the stop was particularly troubling and may be systematic, a deeper issue in the department," said Deane Bonner of the Cobb County chapter of the NAACP.
"Police misconduct is not news," said Ben Williams, chairman of the Cobb County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "The real story here, in my opinion, is the behavior of this police chief in Cobb County, Georgia."
"To be here today and to stand with Chief Register as he pulls the shades up and exposes the sunrise here in Cobb County as that pertains to the conduct of the Cobb County Police Department, that's the news," he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report