OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A police captain for the Oklahoma City Police Department was filmed repeatedly asking a sergeant to turn off his body camera during a DUI stop earlier this week, as seen in new footage released by the department.
On May 12, Captain James “Matt” French of the OKCPD’s homicide investigation team was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.
Sergeant Chris Skinner, a fellow police officer, stopped French just after 1:30 a.m. that morning. Captain 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,” Sgt. Skinner says.
“I’m,” French starts to say.
“Drunk?” Skinner suggests.
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 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 says 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 Sgt. Skinner did everything by the book.
“The officer did exactly as he should have and handled it, you know, very professionally, in my opinion,” Chief Gourley said.
The Chief said now the department 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 Chief Gourley. “There’s oftentimes a lot of things that you can’t answer just from viewing a video.”
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.