MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) – County officials have requested an independent investigation into how a Georgia police department responded to the actions of an officer who told a black driver “I don’t care about your people” in a heated exchange during a traffic stop.
Cobb County Department of Public Safety Director Sam D. Heaton said in a statement Monday that he and the county manager have asked the county attorney’s office to investigate the handling of the incident by police command staff. Suburban Cobb County is northwest of Atlanta.
“This officer’s actions and comments are unacceptable and do not reflect the attitude and vision of this department or Cobb County,” Heaton said. “I believe this incident is an isolated occurrence and not indicative of a department wide problem.”
In dashcam video of the Nov. 16 encounter, the officer is seen giving the man two traffic citations. He then says, “Leave. Go away. Go to Fulton County.” Atlanta is in Fulton County.
Police Capt. J.D. Adcock wrote in a Nov. 24 letter to the driver, 33-year-old Brian Baker, that the officer’s conduct doesn’t meet the department’s standards. An investigation found that the officer violated the department’s code of conduct, the letter says. The officer is referred to only by last name.
Adcock wrote to Baker that the department had taken several steps including “formal discipline,” but the letter does not specify what type, nor does it say where the officer has been reassigned.
Heaton said Monday that he and the county manager have asked for an independent investigation by the county attorney’s office. The investigation is to look into:
_ The corrective and disciplinary actions taken;
_ The possibility that police command staff “failed to realize the level of discredit” the incident could bring on the officer, the department and county officials;
_ Decisions made during the internal investigation, including a meeting with Baker and his attorney, release of dash camera videos outside of established standards and the reduction of Baker’s tickets to a warning outside of a courtroom.
Baker’s lawyer, Kimberly Bandoh, said Friday that the comments were racial references because her client is black. She said the officer should be dismissed from the force.