OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A police captain for the Oklahoma City Police Department was filmed repeatedly asking a sergeant turn off his body camera during a DUI stop last weekend, as seen in new footage released by the department.
On Sunday, March 12, Capt. James “Matt” French of the department’s homicide investigation team was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.
Sgt. Chris Skinner, a fellow police officer, stopped French just after 1:30 a.m. that morning. French, a 32-year veteran on the force, was allegedly swerving and speeding in his city-issued vehicle. French later said he drank a few beers and a poker game four blocks away.
In the video, French appears to open his car door before the sergeant approaches.
“Get back in your vehicle,” Skinner said.
“I’m,” French started to say.
“Drunk?” Skinner suggested.
Skinner said French’s eyes were watery and he was slurring his speech. The video captures the captain making sure the arresting officer knew he was “a captain of the police department,” and asking seven times for Skinner to turn off his camera.
“Sir, can I … can you turn that off?” French asked the officer one of the times. “I’m asking you. I’m a captain at the police department.”
“I don’t care if you’re a gangbanger or the president of the United States,” Skinner said at one point. “If I were to treat you differently than I was to treat some South Side Loco or some pedo, how does that look on me?”
French ultimately agreed to a field sobriety test, which he failed. Skinner placed him under arrest.
The incident occurred after, what the captain said, was a few beers and a poker game four blocks away.
Police Chief Wade Gourley said Skinner did everything by the book.
“The officer did exactly as he should have and handled it, you know, very professionally, in my opinion,” said Gourley.
The chief said the department now has to conduct a criminal investigation and a subsequent administrative investigation.
“In an administrative investigation … [there are] other questions we can delve into that we can’t do on the criminal side,” said Gourley. “There’s oftentimes a lot of things that you can’t answer just from viewing a video.”
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The criminal investigation will take place before the department’s internal investigation.
Right now, French is on leave with pay, but that could change depending on those investigations.
“I hate that we’re in this position. I hate it for Captain French. I hate it for our organization,” said Gourley.
The police chief said French otherwise has a clean history.