A white police lieutenant in the US state of Georgia who was recorded on video during a traffic stop saying “we only kill black people” will be fired, a local police chief has said.
Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register told reporters on Thursday that he has started the process to terminate the employment of Lieutenant Greg Abbott.
Dashcam video from July 2016 shows a car stopped on the side of a road. A white woman can be heard telling Abbott she was scared to move her hands in order to get her mobile phone, local television station, WSB-TV reported.
Abbott interrupts her and says, “But you’re not black. Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah. We only kill black people, right?”
Abbott, who has been an officer in Cobb County for more than 20 years, was placed on administrative duty last week, pending an investigation.
Earlier on Thursday, Abbott’s lawyer, Lance LoRusso, said in a statement to The Associated Press that Abbott is cooperating with the investigation, and his comments were meant to “de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger”.
But Register said later on Thursday that regardless of the context, such comments are “unacceptable”.
“No 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,” Register said in an emailed statement.
LoRusso was not available for comment regarding the expected termination of employment.
More than 1,000 killed
US police departments have been under increased scrutiny in recent years for the disproportionate number of shootings of black Americans by police.
According to the Guardian newspaper’s The Counted database, at least 1,093 people were killed by police in the US last year.
Nearly a quarter of those killed were African Americans although the group accounts for roughly 12 percent of the total US population.
Civil rights campaigners and activists say the disproportionate number of black Americans killed by police is part of a broader pattern of racial discrimination in the country’s justice system.
These disparities, particularly the killing of African Americans by police, have prompted the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, a popular civil rights movement aimed at ending police violence and dismantling structural racism.