‘We only kill black people,’ cop tells white woman at traffic stop

Pulled over by police in Cobb County, Ga., the woman tells the officer she’s afraid of being shot. The officer tells her to use her phone, which is in her lap. But she doesn’t want to do anything with her hands.

“I just don’t want to put my hands down,” she tells the officer. “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops…”

The officer cuts her off. “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 white people get killed?”

The video comes from Atlanta’s WSB-TV, whose reporter obtained the footage through an open-records request.

The police chief told the station “we’re gonna deal with it.” The officer is on administrative leave, according to the New York Times.

  • kevins

    Oh Boy….baaaad time for a joke, if it was a joke.

    • Rob

      My sense is that it was a joke – egregiously inappropriate, but a joke nonetheless. Though bad enough sonics/optics to get the jokester suspended, at a minimum.

      • Kassie

        A joke is something you tell your friends. It is not something you tell someone you have pulled over and is afraid.

        • Rob

          Agreed. Hence egregiously inappropriate.

    • Jerry

      If he thought it was funny, that is even worse.

  • The Doctor

    He should be fired and lose his badge.

  • Al
  • AJSmothers

    At first I thought he “could have been making a very bad joke” but then he reference the videos about not seeing any white people killed in videos. Then it became “no, he isn’t joking”. And the woman is scared, so that kind of statement was pretty bad.

  • Rob

    Seriously? Ask someone who’s been shot in cold blood by cops. Oh, wait – you can’t, because they’re dead.

  • Rob

    Yes, let’s have all of our veteran cops go around making comments like this officer did. It’s just a joke, after all.

  • rosswilliams

    What’s interesting is that we have a white woman afraid of cops when the media meme, as the officer makes clear, is that its black men that have largely been the victims of police violence.

    The reality is the woman was right to be afraid. Police are trained to “stay safe out there” and handed a gun to do that. Black men are most at risk since the media portrays them as prone to violence. But, as we have seen in Minnesota, anyone can get killed if they do any innocent action that a police officer interprets as threatening. Apparently some people like this woman have realized this larger reality. That is despite the media’s studious effort to ignore it and treat the problem as exclusively one of race.

    This cop was clearly trying to diffuse a situation, not create an incident. It appears he tried to use sarcasm to reassure a specific person, not make a political statement. It apparently worked. It was “egregiously inappropriate” only because it became public and picked up by TV station and provided a great story that attracts an audience for advertisers.

    • theoacme

      The media was helped by Bill Clinton calling blacks “superpredators”, which his “opponent” Republicans never corrected (since Hillary Clinton never renounced this statement, this is another reason why there is precious little difference between Republicans and Democrats on the lack of equal justice under law…)

      • Two important corrections:

        1) It was Hillary Clinton who used the term “superpredators”.

        2) She did not use the term to condemn and generalize all blacks as “superpredators”; specifically, gangs. Here is her entire quote, for context:

        “But we also have to have an organized effort against gangs,. Just as in a previous generation we had an organized effort against the mob. We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels, they are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators — no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first, we have to bring them to heel.”

        • She also apologized for using that term.

          • Which you did not acknowledge in your original post (“… since Hillary Clinton never renounced this statement …)?


          • Me?

            This was the only post I have here: “She also apologized for using that term.”

      • rosswilliams

        No one pays much attention to what politicians say. They play off people’s prejudices, they don’t create them. Its the popular media that is responsible for that since the media is “reality” for a lot of people.

        For instance, Hilary Clinton. Do you really think she has ever even met a “superpredator”. No. This is based on reading something in the media or a briefing from people who have or talking to some Yale professor who has “studied” the problem by reading second hand reports.

        • Rob

          //No one pays much attention to what politicians say.//
          Ya got it exactly backwards.

          • rosswilliams

            Neither one pays any attention to media chat group comments.

  • 212944

    The perception of police is created by the police. They own this, either through their own actions or their unwillingness to hold the actions of the “few bad apples” to account for their actions.

    Until they clean up their own messes, they live with that “perception.”

    • Jerry

      People always forget the rest of the saying: “…spoils the whole bunch”.

    • Jerry

      Suppose, for a moment, that we replace the word “police” in your comment with “Muslims”. Do you agree with me that the result is absurd, and completely unfair to the vast majority of Muslims who see their Muslim identity as deeply intertwined with kindness and responsibility? I hope you do.

      If so, is there anything else about your comment that makes it really different from the hypothetical one about Muslims? (Which, by the way, is not really hypothetical, since it was expressed in almost exactly this form by President Trump in a debate last fall.)

      Personally, I don’t think either argument is okay!

      • rosswilliams

        Except there are literally millions of Muslims who have actively opposed terrorists. In fact, it has been overwhelmingly Muslims who have been the victims.of that terror.

        I agree that blaming all police for a few bad apples is wrong, but this is not a problem of a few bad apples. This is a problem of American and police culture. Most of these incidents are a result of cops doing what they were trained to do. Which is why most police are unwilling to speak out against them. They see them as mistakes, but not a moral failure.

        BTW, doctors make mistakes and people end up dead. We don’t treat them as criminals unless there was serious malfeasance.

      • 212944

        We can play that game but substituting the word “Christians” as well.

        But that is thread-jacking and off-point..

        Back to point, police are hired by communities and exist within a structure in each community that specifically includes the ability (and, frankly, responsibility) to act in the public interest. THAT IS WHY THEY EXIST. And when individuals within the police act outside of those norms, departments have the authority to handle it.

        Likely, most department leaders do handle it. But as anyone who reads the newspaper or listens to the radio knows, far, far, far too many departments allow the “bad apples” to exist.

        This is a cultural issue within some departments. Nothing new, just more exposed in the 21st century.

  • theoacme

    Can you explain why Tamir Rice and Philando Castile were both murdered unjustifiably by police, and why their murderers were never convicted, and why no police officer ever condemned Rice’s and Castile’s murders?

    The last point makes my belief that all police are either racist murderers, or willing accomplices to racist murder, not only truthful, but completely rational.

  • Jerry

    Textbook sensationalism.

    • Laurie K.

      Sensationalism typically means that accuracy is forgone for the sake of shock. What, exactly, is inaccurate about this story?

      • rosswilliams

        No, sensationalism is giving something exaggerated significance. This is a textbook case. There is nothing important about this story. Was his comment appropriate? No. Did it cause any harm? No. The only person who was effected was the woman in the car and she apparently calmed down as a result of it.

        Of course, as we can see, properly sensationalized it makes great click bait. Which is really the only criteria for “information” we get from the popular media. Imagine an appropriate headline that said, “Video shows Georgia police officer making inappropriate remark.” The story would never make the cut.

        • Laurie K.

          From the Oxford living dictionary:
          sensationalism: (especially in journalism) the presentation of stories in a way that is intended to provoke public interest or excitement, at the expense of accuracy.
          ‘media sensationalism’

          As far as the rest of your argument, the officer made a racist comment… how is that not important? As I said in response to another comment, is it because the racist comment was a “joke” and was not directed at a minority? The only reason you see this story as “nothing important” is because you personally were not offended by the comment – that does not mean it should not have been reported.

          • rosswilliams

            What was racist about it? What he said was slightly exaggerated but largely true. He is right, cops only kill black people. That reality is racist. Your belief that his comment is racist is a result of the media’s “sensationalism”.

            Moreover, no one was apparently offended by his statement because they didn’t hear it. The woman who did hear it apparently wasn’t offended and its extremely unlikey he would have said it if he thought she would be. Other people are offended by that private conversation as it was reported in the media based on a web cam recording.

            And yes, It does matter who it was directed at, just as it matters that it was a police officer and not an BLM activist who said it. It appears the police department took offense at his characterization of how police work because they fired him. They were offended at his blunt description of reality.

          • Laurie K.

            A.) The fact that an officer of the law can “joke” about the fact that statistically cops shoot black people more than any other race is racist. The remark itself may be largely true, but that officer is mocking the fact that an entire race of people are at risk of being shot by cops simply based on the color of their skin. I do agree that the reality is racist.

            B.) So if I make a racist joke in my home but someone captures it on video, it only becomes racist if it is publicized? I am sorry, not buying that argument.

            C.) I completely disagree that it matters who the remark is directed to. Racism is still racism no matter who happens to hear the racist remark. In this case, it appears that more than just the police department took offense or we would not still be talking about this.

          • rosswilliams

            ” The remark itself may be largely true, but that officer is mocking the fact that an entire race of people are at risk of being shot by cops simply based on the color of their skin.”

            No, he wasn’t. He was trying to calm down someone who thought he was going to kill her because of media reports. He was not mocking the reality, if anything he was mocking the media’s sensationalism. There is nothing “racist” about that.

            ” it only becomes racist if it is publicized?”

            No, but it only becomes offensive when someone is there to be offended. Saying someone is not very bright in private is different than saying it to their face in public. This is a private conversation that became public. That isn’t that tough to understand absent the media’s sensationalism.

            ” In this case, it appears that more than just the police department took offense”

            That was the purpose of the media in sensationalizing it. They wanted people to take offense in order to make the story interesting. It worked. And when people calm down they will find something new to juice you up emotionally. That is what holds an audience for advertisers.

          • Laurie K.

            Clearly, we will have to agree to disagree. I find no reason ever to joke about the fact that a race needs to fear officers because they are more likely to be shot, whether it was to allegedly “calm someone down” or not.

            The media did not “sensationalize” anything. They posted a video using the words that came directly from the officer as a headline. Many people had a visceral reaction to those words. The fact that you, personally, did not, does not necessarily mean that this story is unworthy of being reported.

          • rosswilliams

            “I find no reason ever to joke about the fact that a race needs to fear officers because they are more likely to be shot, ”

            Which is clearly not what the “joke”, if that is what it was, was about. Remember that definition of sensationalism you posted? This is what sensationalism looks like. Instead of what happened, it’s the sensationalized version that becomes reality.

            But perhaps we have a national crisis of tasteless jokes. Congress should investigate. Trump should tweet! Why haven’t they done something. Click here for more!

          • Laurie K.

            Well, see that is where you and I are obviously never going to have a meeting of the minds. I do not feel that posting the video of the actual events is a “sensationalized version”.

          • rosswilliams

            But they didn’t just post the actual video. They stuck a headline on it. And they only included the portion of the video that supported that headline. Moreover, the headline was misleading. He said the words, but they were taken out of the context of someone not wanting to make any move that would provoke fear in the police. In short, it was sensationalized to make a story out of a completely insignificant event of no consequence that happened over a year ago.

          • rosswilliams

            “They posted a video using the words that came directly from the officer as a headline. Many people had a visceral reaction to those words. ”

            Precisely. Words used out of context to elicit a visceral reaction. Classic sensationalism.

          • Laurie K.

            Also, there is no such thing as a “private conversation” when you are a public servant. That may be part of the job that you dislike, but when you make the choice to become an officer of the law, you will be subject to public scrutiny.

      • Jerry

        Replace the headline with “`We only kill black people,’ cop *sarcastically* tells white woman at traffic stop”, and I never would have clicked on this story.

        The guy was clearly making a joke. This is not worthy of national news.

        • Laurie K.

          In your opinion it was a “joke” – in the opinions of others, it was at the least, an extremely insensitive racial remark. I have a hard time understanding how it can be called “sensational” to use the officer’s very words, but then characterize those words as a “joke”.

          • Jerry

            >>I have a hard time understanding how it can be called “sensational” to use the officer’s very words, but then characterize those words as a “joke”.

            Because it was just a joke. In good taste? Apparently not. Worth getting worked into a tizzy over? Not for me. I think we’re better off paying attention when people say things they mean, not when they say things they don’t.

          • Laurie K.

            I cannot correlate your comment that using the officer’s exact words is “sensational” – but then you call those words a “joke”. Which are they – sensational or a joke? Because in my mind, they cannot be both.

          • Jerry

            I am saying that the post to which these comments are attached, and the video it contains, are sensationalism. I am saying that the officer made a joke.

          • Jay T. Berken

            “In good taste? Apparently not.”

            No, perception is reality. Joke or not, the police are perceived by many that this is truth. Judging by your comments, you are white and this does not matter to you. To others, it is the fear of life and death.

          • Jerry

            To be clear, I care very much about people being murdered. I do *not* care about a joke a white police officer privately makes to a white woman who can’t even get her stereotypes straight.

            I completely agree that police violence is an extremely sensitive issue, and that is precisely why I call this story sensationalism. If this guy’s stupid joke cast any meaningful light on the nationwide problem of police killing innocent people, or if the blog post took the time to explore what that officer thinks about the stereotype of police officers as racist murderers, I would feel very differently about this story. However, that is not what we have. Instead, we have a frivolous tidbit that can only serve to touch a raw nerve and set off a firestorm in the comments section. I don’t think we should be touching that raw nerve for those reasons. That is why I don’t like this blog post.

          • Speaking of which, I’ve pulled in for the night on the drive back to Minnesota, with enough time to delete comments that violate the NewsCut rules.

            If anyone is wondering where their comment went, don’t.

  • Laurie K.

    Yes, because we all know that it’s not racist if the comment is not directed at a minority…

  • Jerry

    Apparently this cop doesn’t think it is a lie

  • Jerry

    Because the disproportionate murder of black men by police is funny?

  • Jerry

    Racist jokes are told by racist people

  • rosswilliams

    Uh. The passenger was white. She was not worried that the police were a bunch of racist murderers, she was afraid they were prone to violence at the least provocation.

    For her, race had nothing to do with it. It was the officer who brought race into the conversation.

  • Jerry

    Racist is as racist does

  • Jerry


  • Scott johnson

    They say under no circumstances were these statements appropriate. My perspective is that the officer simply appeared to very candidly speak the mere truth as he understands it to be. He doesn’t offer an indictment. He doesn’t offer a defense. Just the plain, unvarnished, unsugarcoated truth. Some of us like it when the president seems to be doing the same thing.

    No, it seems to me that the officer is simply a witness offering expert, first hand evidence of a truth many already knew before the officer put our worst suspicions into words.

    Now we must judge that evidence, indict the system that made this true, to whatever degree it is true, and condemn it.