Officer Fired for Racist Remark to Driver
It’s made national headlines: A police officer in the Atlanta area was recorded telling a woman that “We only shoot black people.” The statement was uttered during a traffic stop last year, but was only brought to light recently. The offending officer, Lt. Greg Abbott, retired before he could be terminated from his position.
According to reports, the Lieutenant made the comment during a traffic stop in July 2016. He had pulled over a motorist under suspicion of driving under the influence. A female passenger in the vehicle appeared nervous to the officer and, in an attempt to calm her, the officer said, “But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people. Yeah. We only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the black people get killed?”
The officer, speaking through his attorney, said that he was only trying to deescalate the situation. The woman was reaching for her phone as she said, “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops…”. The footage was released by the media in late August, close to the time the police department employing the officer was made aware of the situation.
The Stats Behind the “Joke”
According to Huffington Post, reporting a study by The Guardian, there were more than 250 African-Americans killed by police in 2016. Of those people, 39 were unarmed. Four people were killed by tasers or stun guns, nine died while in custody, and the remainder were fatally shot. That same study found that black males are nine times more likely to be killed during police encounters than any other demographic.
The number of killings at the hands of police officers spurred the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a movement that is both highly supported and highly contested. While some people stand firmly on the side of the movement, others claim that the group is racist and has targeted police and other citizens across the country.
No matter how people feel about deaths at the hands of police officers, one thing is certain: The statement made by the officer in this case, at least in the eyes of his department, was uncalled for and in bad taste. An officer attempting to de-escalate a situation tries to calm a suspect or person otherwise encountering the police. To say that “we only shoot black people” is not an acceptable way of calming someone.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Atlanta, you need the experience of Hawkins Spizman Kilgo on your side. We have been successfully defending clients for years and are ready to put our knowledge to work for you. Call our office today to discover more about your legal rights. We will evaluate your case at no cost to you or your family and help you determine the best next steps.