Black Shootings
An officer of Cobb County, Georgia, referred to shooting black people to a woman driver at a traffic stop. In this photo, demonstrators march through the streets protesting the Oct. 8, 2014, killing of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer in St Louis, Missouri, Oct. 9, 2014. Getty Images/ Scott Olson

A dashcam footage from 2016, which shows an officer of Cobb County, Georgia, making racist comments to a driver who had been pulled over at a traffic stop, has led the department to start an internal investigation on Friday.

The footage, acquired by Channel 2 Action News, after they submitted an open-records request, shows a woman driver being stopped by Lt. Greg Abbott at a traffic stop to check if she was driving under the influence.

The driver admits she is terrified of moving her hands from the steering wheel because she does not want to get shot.

“No no, I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops…” the woman is heard saying before Abbott cuts her off with an inappropriate reply.

“But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people,” Abbott said. “Yeah. We only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the black people get killed?”

The footage prompted the department to initiate legal action against Abbott, who has been placed on administrative duties in the meantime. According to the department, Abbott has had a clean record of service so far and did not have a history of racial bias complaints.

Lance LoRusso, Abbott’s attorney, said in a statement that the context in which the words were spoken have to be taken into consideration before a decision is made in his client’s case.

“Lt. Greg Abbott is a highly respected 28-year veteran of the Cobb County Police Department,” LoRusso said, according to Channel 2 Action News. “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.”

However, Chief of Cobb Police Mike Register told Channel 2 Action News that the words spoken by Abbott were equally abhorrent, regardless of the context. “No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register said. “We are going to keep going forward to make sure we, as a police department, service the community in a most professional way. All segments of the community.”

Suri Chadha Jimenez, the lawyer who is representing the female driver, also echoed Register’s sentiments. “It makes you cringe when you hear it. It’s unacceptable,” Jimenez said.

The incident happened a while before the International Association of Chiefs of Police ordered the department to look into public opinion of racist and discriminatory policing.

According to a report by the Washington Post, 492 people were shot and killed by the police in the first six months of 2017 and nearly a quarter of the victims have been African-Americans. However, the number of black people getting killed at the hands of the police has reduced slightly from last year. While 34 percent of the total number of victims of police shootings in the first half of 2016 was African-Americans, this year, the percentage has decreased to 26 percent.