Officials reportedly placed Lt. Greg Abbott, a 28-year veteran of the Cobb County, Georgia, police force, on administrative duty after a 2016 incident revealed he told a white motorist that only "black people" are killed during traffic stops.
An internal investigation of the incident was opened last week.
Dash cam footage of the incident showed Abbott pulling over a man suspected of driving under the influence.
After the male suspect was arrested and loaded into the police cruiser, Abbott could be heard telling the suspect's female companion — who reportedly had also been drinking — that she needed to call "the person who was coming" to get her, as her driver had been arrested.
In response, the woman admitted to the officer that she was frightened by the idea of having to reach for her mobile phone.
"I've just seen way too many videos of cops—" the woman trailed off.
Responding to her concerns, Abbott said, "But you’re not black. Remember? We only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen black people get killed? You have."
The woman was also arrested on charges related to the traffic stop.
Abbott's attorney, Lance LoRusso, provided a statement to WSB-TV Atlanta, defending the officer's handling of the situation:
Lt. Greg Abbott is a highly respected 28-year veteran of the Cobb County Police Department. He is cooperating with the department's internal investigation and will continue to do so. His 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.
Suri Chadha Jiminez, an attorney for the male suspect, and who had knowledge of the officer's altercation with the female suspect, told the local CBS affiliate that he believed the officer's comments were "sarcastic" comments in response to the suspect's attitude.
“She does have a legitimate concern,” Chadha Jimenez said. “She was tipsy, but 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.”
A spokesperson for the police department told WSB, "No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said."
Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce also issued the following statement: “I have seen the video and obviously have great concerns. I find the comments on the video repugnant and offensive beyond measure.”
See the dash cam footage featuring the incident in the video below.