A Bay Minette police officer has been cleared of wrongdoing related to a deadly shooting that took place in the summer of 2022.
The Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit first investigated the case. Police reports, law enforcement statements, witness statements, dispatch logs, physician evidence, photos and videos of the evidence were turned over to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office for an extensive review.
The findings show that on August 20, the officer, who was not identified, pulled over Otis French, Jr. for failing to signal a turn. The officer decided to write French a warning and then asked him to turn on his hazard lights to see that the light wasn’t working. French stepped out of the vehicle, and when the officer attempted to pat him down to make sure he did not have any weapons, the two got into an altercation.
The officer called for backup, but the investigation and video evidence found that French struck the officer and pushed him to the ground before fleeing the scene on foot. The officer gave chase but was once again knocked to the ground after he attempted to use a TASER stun gun on the suspect. The TASER was ineffective, and investigators said French took the stun gun from the officer and deployed it on him several times.
“The officer responded by drawing his duty pistol and shooting Mr. French,” the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit stated in a press release.
The Attorney General’s Office concluded that there was not enough probable cause that the officer violated Alabama law.
This conclusion comes after months of French’s family and other community members demanding more information be released. Demonstrators accused police of insufficient training to de-escalate situations, called for the officer to be fired and argued that details of the case didn’t “add up.”
Now that the findings have concluded no wrongdoing, French’s family has requested no more evidence be released, according to the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit.
“While the criminal investigation has been closed, the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit recognizes the tragic loss of life and offers condolences to the French family as they continue to grieve,” the press release continued. “They have been very patient and trusting in our process, and we thank them for their cooperation in this matter.”
Despite this statement, some members of the French family have taken to social media to say they will continue to fight for justice for their loved one.
Jail records dating back to 2014 show French had been booked into the Baldwin County Jail at least three times prior on charges of attempting to elude and another time for reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.
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