OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A police captain of the Oklahoma City Police Department was filmed repeatedly asking a sergeant to turn off his body camera during a drunk driving stop earlier this week, as can be seen in new footage released by the department.
On May 12, Captain James “Matt” French of the OKCPD homicide investigation team was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.
Sergeant Chris Skinner, a fellow police officer, stopped French just after 1:30 that morning. Captain French, a 32-year veteran in the force, was allegedly swerving and accelerating in his city-issued vehicle. French later said he had a few beers and a game of poker four blocks away.
In the video, French appears to open the car door before the sergeant approaches.
“Get back in your vehicle,” Sgt. Skinner says.
“I am,” French begins to say.
“Drunk?” suggests Skinner.
Skinner said French’s eyes were watery and he was slurring his speech. The video captures the captain making sure the arresting officer knows he’s “a police department captain” and asking Skinner seven times to turn off his camera.
“Sir, can I… can you turn it off?” The Frenchman asked the officer once. “I’m asking you. I’m a police department captain.
“I don’t care if you’re a gang member or the president of the United States,” Skinner says at one point. “If I were to treat you differently than I treated a South Side Loco or a pedo, what would it look like?”
French eventually agreed to a field sobriety test, which he failed. Skinner put him under arrest.
The incident occurred after, according to the captain, a few beers and a poker game four blocks away.
Police Chief Wade Gourley said Sgt. Skinner did everything by the book.
“The officer did exactly as he was supposed to and handled it, you know, very professionally, in my opinion,” Chief Gourley said.
The chief said the department must now conduct a criminal investigation and a subsequent administrative investigation.
“In an administrative investigation… [there are] other matters that we can delve into that we can’t do on the criminal side,” Chief Gourley said. “Often there are a lot of things you can’t answer just by watching a video.”
The criminal investigation will take place before the department’s internal investigation.
Right now, French is on paid leave, but that could change depending on those investigations.
“I hate that we are in this position. I hate him for Captain French. I hate him for our organization,” Gourley said.
The police chief said otherwise the Frenchman has a clean story.