(The AEGIS Alliance) – During an investigation, an Oklahoma City Police captain was arrested for driving under the influence, and while being detained, he repeatedly asked the arresting officer to turn off his body camera.
According to a report from Fox 25, Capt. James “Matt” French, who is a 55-year-old police veteran, was pulled over on Sunday morning for swerving and speeding in his unmarked SUV that is owned by the city.
The Oklahoma City Police Department released body camera footage on Thursday that shows French sitting inside his vehicle in the driveway of his mother’s home, which he claims to live in.
Upon approaching French’s SUV, the officer asks if French had been drinking, to which French responds by saying “I’m a captain on the police department,” and then clarifying that he serves as a captain in Oklahoma City.
French then appears to have gestured to his chest and whispered to the officer to “turn the camera off.”
Despite French’s request, the officer continued to record and asked French how much he had to drink. French again signaled towards his chest, indicating that he did not want to be recorded. The officer was taken aback by the request and refused to turn off his camera, saying, “I’m not turning my camera off.”
During the investigation, French claimed that he had been playing poker and had consumed “three or four” beers, with his last drink being around midnight, which was almost two hours prior to being pulled over. When the officer asked him if it was wise for him to be driving, French responded, “No, but I came from four blocks [away].” French struggled to complete various field sobriety tests, unable to maintain his balance, and again asked for the officer to turn off his camera, making it the third time he had requested this.
“I know you are aware of our bodycam policy,” the officer informed French. “You know I cannot turn off this bodycam.”
“I do, but I’d like to talk to you,” French responded.
Despite French’s persistent requests to turn off the body camera, the officer informed him that he would turn it off after concluding his investigation. French reiterated his position as a Captain.
“I’m a sergeant and I’ve taken an oath to uphold the law. I don’t show favoritism to anyone regardless. I don’t care if you’re a gang banger or the President of the United States,” the officer stated.
French was taken into custody and booked at the Oklahoma County Detention Center. He has since been released on bond. As a 32-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department, French has served in the department for a significant amount of time.
According to FOX 25, Chief Wade Gourley of the Oklahoma City Police Department commended the arresting officer for maintaining his professionalism despite French’s repeated requests to turn off the body camera.
“The officer did exactly as he should have, and handled it very professionally in my opinion. As far as how the officer responded, he did exactly as he should have,” Chief Gourley stated.
Although the investigation into French’s arrest is still ongoing, Chief Gourley revealed that French has been placed on administrative leave.
“As soon as we were notified of the incident, he was placed on administrative leave with pay,” Chief Gourley mentioned.
“We do have a process that when criminal charges are filed, per our FOP contract, we do what is called a pre-determination hearing to then put that person on leave without pay because again it’s a criminal matter. So we can put him on leave without pay, but there’s a process we have to go through to do that.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.