Police Captain Begged Officer To Turn Off Bodycam During His Arrest
By Jason Hall
March 17, 2023
An Oklahoma City Police captain repeatedly begged an officer to turn off his body camera during his arrest for driving under the influence.
Video footage released by the Oklahoma City Police Department and obtained by FOX 25 on Thursday (March 16) shows Capt. James 'Matt' French, 55, sitting in a vehicle parked in the private driveway of a home he claimed to live at with his mother early Sunday (March 12) morning. Officers spotted the unmarked, city-owned SUV swerving and speeding prior to making contact with French.
French told an officer, "I'm a captain on the police department," which he clarified was specifically the Oklahoma City Police Department's Investigations Bureau, when asked if he'd been drinking before hesitating and leaning back in his seat after the officer asked the question again. French was then asked how much he had to drink before he motioned to his chest and asked the officer to turn off his camera in a whispering tone.
"I'm not turning my camera off," the officer said on the video. "You got to be kidding me."
French stepped out of the vehicle and said he drank three or four bears at a poker game, the last of which he claimed to have consumed at around midnight, less than two hours prior to being pulled over.
French admitted that he shouldn't be driving but claimed he "came from four blocks." The police captain then participated in various field sobriety tests, which included stumbling on his first attempt and once again asking the arresting officer to turn off his camera, which resulted in the following interaction per FOX 25:
"Sir, can can you turn that off," French asked.
"I can not sir," the officer responded.
"Please," French pleaded.
"I know you are aware of our bodycam policy," the officer told French. "You know I cannot turn off this bodycam."
"I, I do, but I’d like to talk to you" French said.
"I can't do that, sir," the officer responded.
"Please," French said. "Please. I’d like to talk to you."
"Are you going to do the tests or not?" the officer asked.
"Will you please talk to me?" French asked.. "You can turn it off and turn it on," French said in regard to the officer's bodycam.
"I can turn it off once I’m done with my investigation," the officer said.
"Okay. I’m asking you. I’m a captain with the police department," French continued to plead.
"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."
"Sir, I’m not asking for that," French said.
"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?” the officer responded.
The officer once again asked French if he would do the sobriety tests, to which he responded, "whatever you ask."
French appeared to struggle during the tests and continued to unsuccessfully beg the officer to turn off his camera before being booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center and later being bonded out. Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley credited the officer for following bodycam protocols during the arrest and confirmed that French was placed on administrative leave with pay amid an ongoing investigation into the incident.
"As soon as we were notified of the incident, he was placed on administrative leave with pay," Gourley said via FOX 25. "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."
French has worked with the Oklahoma City Police Department for 32 years, according to FOX 25.