During a routine traffic stop, Georgia police Lieutenant Greg Abbott was caught on dashcam video consoling a white woman who admitted that she was afraid to put her hands down during their interaction. She explained to him that she had seen too many videos of cop killings on television, which prompted a response from the officer that led to him being fired.

“But you’re not black. Remember?” he told her. “We only kill Black People, right?”

The treatment of African-Americans by police officers has been questioned, studied, debated, and ignored all at once.

The videos that the woman was referring to have shown cops take extreme measures when handling civilians, and she was worried that a simple traffic violation would result in her death, like many members of the black community do.

But she's white

Mr. Abbott’s decision to dismiss the woman’s concern by reminding her of her skin color can be a blatant admission of the fact that race is a factor in not only how a cop approaches a person, but also how he may attempt to calm them down, if he even chooses to do so, that is. But it can also be a sarcastic comment that he said to add levity to the situation.

That was the argument that most die-hard cop supporters used to defend the lieutenant as the video trended on Twitter early Thursday morning.

Did Mr. Abbott sound sarcastic? Admittedly so, yes, he did. Does that excuse the inexcusable nature of his comments to this young woman? No, it does not.

No laughing matter

As the old saying goes, there are two sides to every story, and one side in particular has argued that their conversation was not shown in its entirety.

They are open to the suggestion that the cop may have confessed that he was joking. Maybe he goes on to explain to her that, that line of thinking is really not representative of the values of law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day. No one, they concede, knows what is in Mr. Abbott’s heart.

The “what’s in his heart” disputation has become a standard justification for the faux pas usually committed by the President of the United States.

One recent blunder, in which President Trump stated in a speech that officers should be less protective of suspects when pushing them into the “back of a paddy wagon,” forced multiple police departments around the country to disavow his comments.

But it was a joke, right? His aides claim that he was not supposed to be taken literally. And besides, they often add, the officers in the crowd laughed at his suggestion. Though, to normal people at least, wouldn’t that behavior be a cause for concern?

We should never brush off comments that espouse police brutality because there are people in this country who don’t take those “jokes” as lightly as others do. In addition to that, there are people who truly fear for their lives when encountered by police. And most of them, truth be told, aren’t white.