Cobb officer who said ‘we only kill black people’ says he’ll retire

A white Cobb County police lieutenant who told a woman during a traffic stop that “we only kill black people” will be fired, the police chief said on Thursday.

But even as Chief Mike Register was on live TV announcing the termination of Lt. Greg Abbott, Abbott was sending an email to the county announcing his retirement, Commission Chairman Mike Boyce said. Boyce said it wasn’t clear how that development would affect plans to dismiss the officer.

At Thursday’s press conference, Chief Register said, “I have known Lt. (Greg) Abbott for years and perceived him as honorable, but he’s made a mistake. I don’t know what is in his heart, but I know what came out of his mouth. We recommend that he be terminated and we are moving forward on that.”

The lieutenant has been on the force for 28 years.

The date stamp on the video is July 10, 2016 — just a few days after Minnesota police shot and killed Philando Castile, whose girlfriend recorded his death with her phone.

Channel 2 Action News first reported the existence of the Abbott tape in its newscast Wednesday night. The footage shows the officer speaking through the car window to a female passenger in a vehicle that had been stopped for suspected DUI.

The woman tells Abbott that she is afraid to reach for her cellphone because “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops ... ” At that point, Abbott cuts her off.

“But you’re not black,” he says. “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 footage is from July 2016. Register took over as chief of Cobb police in June of this year.

At this afternoon’s press conference, Register said, “I wish Lt. Abbott well. But I think that was very inappropriate for any police officer to say that, but espcially one of our leaders in the department.”

Contributing: Staff writer Meris Lutz

Correction: This article initially quoted the officer as saying "we only shoot black people." The correct quote was "we only kill black people."