BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WKRG) — Tuesday, Sept. 20, marks one month since a man was killed by a Bay Minette officer.
Otis French Jr. was shot and killed Aug. 20 after he was pulled over for a broken blinker. Investigators believe things escalated when French was asked to get out of his car. The officer wanted to show him the faulty blinker, but French refused. French ran from the officer after pushing him down, according to investigators.
The officer and French got into a fight when French allegedly grabbed the officer’s taser and used it on him several times. The officer then shot French, according to investigators.
Dozens of residents, including French’s family members, showed up at the city council meeting Monday, Aug. 19 to voice their concerns. Tamara French, the sister of Otis French, spoke at the meeting.
“My brother did not deserve to die over a traffic stop. That is ridiculous,” said Tampa French. “And if police are not trained enough to deescalate a situation that shouldn’t have even happened in the first place that they actually escalated to begin with then they shouldn’t be on the job.”
Jerald Crook is a member of the Bay Minette Justice League and he believes there’s more to the story.
“He was asked to leave his car to be shown the violation which we already thought was an odd situation because that doesn’t seem like a typical thing. The story doesn’t add up,” said Cook.
WKRG News 5 spoke with Lt. Andre Reid two days after the shooting. Reid is in charge of the Major Crimes Task Force that is investigating the shooting.
When we last spoke with Reid, he said the investigation wouldn’t be quick, but it would be thorough. Reid said several agencies were working on the case.
“Between recovered shell casings and how many rounds were actually fired from the officer’s weapon, body camera footage, witnesses, you name it,” said Reid. “There actually may be another source of video out there. We have to review those things and come back with a definitive answer.”
With the end of the month nearing, BMJL member Joshua Brown wonders when the body cam footage and autopsy will be released.
“We’re such a close community in Bay Minette, that’s why we want to keep pushing. For our leadership to shut down and not give us answers, it hurts. It hurts the entire community,” said Brown. “And we need those answers to heal, we need those answers for the family, and we want transparency, we want accountability. We want answers.”
WKRG News 5 reached out to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and the Bay Minette Police Chief. Officials said the investigation is still ongoing and they have no comment at this time.