As seen in the below Daily Mail video, titled “White cop to black driver: ‘I don’t care about your people‘,” Officer Maurice Lawson is in a heap of trouble after telling 33-year-old Brian Baker those words. The video looks pretty standard as it begins with Lawson and two other officers standing around during a routine traffic stop with Baker sitting in his running car. Lawson tells Baker he’s going to issue the middle school teacher a couple of citations.
The incident occurred at approximately 2 a.m. on November 16, with Brian having been pulled over for allegedly speeding and not maintaining his traffic lane. The dash cam video shows the three officers including Lawson, as Lawson waits for Baker to return a copy of the ticket he has to sign.
“All right, I’m gonna give you two tickets. One for speeding, one for failure to maintain lane. All right? If you don’t mind signing, that’s it.”
The traffic stop occurred in Cobb County, Georgia. Lawson and Brian seemed to get along fine at first, and were jovial, even — but then things turned sour when there was some kind of miscommunication about the citations issued or the copy of the ticket that needed to be returned to the officer. That’s when Baker asked if he could leave. Lawson made comments that are being deemed racist.
“Leave. Go Away. Go to Fulton County. I don’t care about your people man, go.”
That’s when Baker sounded incredulous on the video, not expecting to hear the comment from the officer of the law saying he didn’t care about a race of people. Since Fulton County is known as a more urban area with a greater African-American population, and Cobb County is known as a suburban area, the comment’s meaning was dissected as biased.
— AJC (@ajc) December 4, 2015
JD Adcock, the police captain, launched an investigation into the incident and discovered that Lawson did not adhere to their department’s code of conduct during the traffic stop with Baker. Meanwhile, in the video, which is garbled in some sections, it sounded like Baker didn’t understand everything Lawson was asking.
Lawson appeared nice enough at first, saying things like “if you don’t mind” as Baker signed the citations. Brian asked if he could leave, and instead of immediately saying something in the affirmative, Lawson lingered and then made the comment about Fulton County and the fact that he didn’t care about Brian’s people.
Whether Lawson meant it as a hip way to say that he wasn’t “studying” doing anything wrong to Brian and his “people” or whether Lawson was trying to dismiss him, Baker can be heard growing angrier at the comment. Brian’s voice raised and he asked Lawson again what he meant by comments like “your people.” That’s when Lawson said Baker was making him angry.
“Go to Fulton County, cuz. Go. You’re pissing me off.”
As the melee continued, one could see how the traffic stop could’ve escalated even further. Baker and Lawson went back and forth in a “Do you want to step out and talk to me?” routine that was reminiscent of a “Let’s step outside” bar comment. Finally, Baker declined to fight the police officer and Lawson told him he could leave.
Lawson started cursing after Baker drove off, apparently forgetting all about the dash cam.
“Why do I got to deal with s*** like that? This is the f****** America we live in, ain’t it?”
— anne hillebrand (@annehillebrand2) December 4, 2015
Adcock’s apology letter has gone viral via articles like “Officer tells black driver: ‘I don’t care about your people'” from Yahoo News UK.
“The Cobb County Police Department does not now nor has ever condoned the behavior demonstrated by Officer Lawson during his interaction with you. Misconduct as demonstrated by Officer Lawson is a very serious violation of our Code of Conduct and not considered lightly. Officer Lawson’s conduct as he spoke with you does not meet our high standards, has brought discredit to the department and himself, and is not now nor will ever be tolerated.”
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)