Oklahoma City Police captain James “Matt” French was arrested for driving under the influence, and video shows he repeatedly asked the arresting officer to turn off their body camera, per KOKH.
The 55-year-old police captain was pulled over by officers on Sunday (March 12) when he was seen swerving and speeding in a city-owned SUV. When he drove his vehicle to his home and pulled over, he was approached by an officer and was asked if he was drinking. “I’m a captain on the police department,” he told the officer, noting that he was with the Investigations Bureau. When he was asked again if he had been drinking, he avoided the question and later quietly asked the officer to turn off his body camera.
“I’m not turning my camera off,” the cop could be heard telling French in the clip. “You got to be kidding me.” When he eventually stepped out of the vehicle, French admitted that he was at a poker game earlier that night and had “three or four” beers. French was asked if he should be behind the wheel in his state, and replied, “No, but I came from four blocks.” He was put through various sobriety tests, and continued to ask for the officer to turn the camera off. “I can not sir,” the cop told French, who asked, “Please.”
“I know you are aware of our bodycam policy,” he said to French. “You know I cannot turn off this bodycam.” At that point, French said he understands but he’d “like to talk” with the officer. “Please, I’d like to talk to you,” he said. “You can turn it off and turn it on.” The captain tried to remind the officer who he was, but he refused to budge.
"I understand that sir," the officer said. "I'm a sergeant [in this police department] 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. ... If I were to treat you differently than I was to treat like some south side loco or some pedo how’s that look on me?” French was taken into custody, but has since bonded out.
In a statement, Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley praised the response of the officer and said French has been placed on administrative leave. "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," said Gourley. "Our policies of our body camera, there's certain types of calls that the body cameras are required to be on, and traffic stops are one of those. ... As to why Captain French was saying that, I can only make assumptions, but the officer did exactly as he should have by not turning the camera off."