The Georgia police officer who wasÂ capturedÂ on cameraÂ telling a woman during a traffic stop that law enforcement personnelÂ âonly killÂ black peopleâÂ says heâll retire amid theÂ backlash.
Lt. Greg AbbottÂ announced his intent to leave the Cobb County Police Department on Thursday, after his superiors told him he would be fired, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
It is unclear whetherÂ officials would accept Abbottâs resignation or follow through with their plan to terminate him. With nearly 30Â years of government service, the distinction could have a profound affect on his retirement benefits.Â Spokespersons for the police department did not immediately respond to a message from The Washington Post.
Dash-cam videoÂ shows Abbott standing outside a vehicle during aÂ DUI traffic stop in July 2016.Â AÂ femaleÂ passenger can be heard telling the officer that she did not wantÂ to put her hands down to reach for her phone because, âIâve just seen way too many videos of cops â.â
âBut youâre not black,â the officer interrupted. âRemember, we only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All the videos youâve seen, have you seen any white people get killed? You have.â
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register described Abbott as âhonorable,â but said the officer hadÂ made a mistake, the newspaper reported.
âI donât know what is in his heart,â the chief added, indicating Abbot would be fired, âbut I know what came out of his mouth.â
The department said Wednesday that Register received information late last weekÂ about anÂ officer making âinappropriate racial comments,â which were capturedÂ on videoÂ obtained by ABC affiliate WSB.
Abbott was placed onÂ administrative duties during an internal investigation.
Abbottâs attorney, Lance LoRusso,Â said Abbott is fully cooperating.
âHis comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context,â LoRusso said in the statement Thursday to The Washington Post. âHe was attempting to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger.Â In context, his comments were clearly aimed at attempting to gain compliance by using the passengerâs own statements and reasoning to avoid making an arrest.â
But the police chief saidÂ there was no excuse.
âNo matter what the context, statements like these are unacceptable and are not indicative of the type of culture we are trying to facilitate here in the police department, as well as within the county,â Register said in a statement.
Suri Chadha Jimenez, an attorney who represented the driver in the DUI case, said that he had seen the video whileÂ preparing forÂ court last summer and wasÂ âshockedâ by what he had heard.
âIÂ heard that, and IÂ cringed. IÂ had to replay it. IÂ thought, âThereâs no way,â â he said.
HeÂ said he thinks the officer was being sarcastic with the passenger for giving him âlip.â
âThe reality is, to us minorities, there is a real fear when youâre pulled over,â he said. âHe thought it was a joke, but itâs not a joke to many people.â
Jimenez, whose clientâs case was resolved last month, said heâs glad the video has been exposed and hopes it will prompt the police department to provide training for its officers.
This story has been updated.