OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Police Department released body camera video of a fellow police officer arresting a police captain for driving drunk, during which the captain can be heard repeatedly asking the arresting officer to turn the body camera off.
On March 12 at 1:40 a.m., the Oklahoma Police Department said Sergeant Chris Skinner pulled over Homicide Investigation Captain James “Matt” French. The 32-year veteran on the force was allegedly swerving and speeding in his city-issued vehicle along S. May.
Sgt. Skinner: “Get back in your vehicle.”
Sgt. Skinner: “Drunk?”
The incident occurred after, what the captain said, was a few beers and a poker game four blocks away.
Skinner said French’s eyes were watery and he was slurring his speech.
The video captures the captain making sure the arresting officer knows who he is.
French: “I’m a captain of the police department.”
Sgt. Skinner: “What police department?”
French: “Oklahoma City. Turn your camera off.”
French repeatedly tells the officer to turn off the camera.
Sgt. Skinner: “How much have you had to drink tonight, sir?”
French: “Turn the camera off, please.”
“Sir, can I… can you turn that off?” French asked the officer another time. “I’m asking you. I’m a captain at the police department.”
Sgt. Skinner never waivered.
“I don’t care if you’re a gang banger or the president of the United States,” said Sgt. Skinner. “If I were to treat you differently like some South Side Loco or some pedo, how does that look on me?”
“Okay, I’m not asking you for that,” said French.
After being denied to turn off the camera, French agreed to a field sobriety test. He didn’t pass.
French: “Are you going to arrest me, sir?”
Sgt. Skinner: “Yes, I am.”
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,” said Chief Gourley.
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 happen first, then it will be followed by 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 has a clean history other than this.