Body camera footage has surfaced of the DWI arrest of New Jersey state senator Sandra Cunningham, which shows the veteran legislator failed a field test for sobriety, complained he felt “shaky” and repeatedly asked for the public security chief from Jersey City.
Cunningham, a Democrat who has represented the 31st Legislative District, which includes Bayonne and Jersey City, since 2007, was detained by police on the morning of March 4 after crashing into two legally parked cars.
Cunningham told officers she was about to make a turn near her home in Jersey City, but hit a snowdrift, according to a police incident report.
A body camera video of the DWI arrest of New Jersey State Senator Sandra Cunningham has been released on March 4. In it, the Democrat fails a sobriety test in the field and complains of feeling ‘unsteady’
Cunningham, 70, was detained by police after she allegedly rammed her SUV into two parked cars not far from her home in Jersey City
In the body camera footage released Friday in response to: The Jersey Journals Public Records Request, Cunningham, 70, appears to have trouble listing her address and following an officer’s instructions as part of a field sobriety test.
During her hour-long interaction with police, Cunningham twice asks to summon Shea, Jersey City’s director of public safety (pictured)
The state legislator says she feels “unsteady” but denies drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
During her hour-long interaction with the police, Cunningham twice asks for Shea, Jersey City’s director of public safety, to come to the scene.
The officer performing the traffic stop doesn’t seem impressed by Cunningham’s case.
“What’s Director Shea got to do with it now?” he asks Cunningham.
She replies, “Well, because I see you’re looking for something that isn’t there.”
The cop shoots back, “So Director Shea has nothing to do with… this stop, but right now, ma’am.”
Shea apparently never made it to the traffic stop.
Cunningham denies drinking alcohol or taking drugs
After requesting medical attention, police place Cunningham in handcuffs and lead her to a waiting ambulance
Cunningham later claimed to a friend that the crash was caused by an adverse drug reaction
Cunningham eventually stops her failed attempts to put one foot in front of the other, as ordered by the officer, telling him she feels “unsteady.”
“I asked if you had any medical conditions, you said ‘no’ and now, as we do the test, you feel unsteady,” the officer tells the woman.
“You can feel unsteady at any time,” Cunningham argues.
She then launches a statement that she previously thought felt good, but that has since changed.
“I could see now that I’m not as stable as I should be,” Cunningham says.
The twenty-seven-year-old state senator initially refused medical attention, but later requested medical attention.
When the police went to handcuff Cunningham before taking her to an ambulance, she tried to resist and said, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.”
Cunningham has represented the 31st Legislative District since 2007, which includes Bayonne and Jersey City City
Cunningham pleaded not guilty to a charge of drink driving.
In the body camera video, she denied drinking alcohol when questioned by police.
“Is there a reason why you wave and speak slurred and have trouble executing basic directions?” the officer asks her.
Cunningham tells him she is ‘very cold’.
Another video of the scene shows the 70-year-old struggling to list her Willow Street address, instead saying she lives on West Street.
Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey told NorthJersey.com and The Record in March that he picked up Cunningham from a police station after her arrest and she told him the crash was caused by an adverse reaction to medication.
However, in the recently released body camera video, Cunningham tells police that she is not taking any drugs.
Cunningham, who is up for re-election in the fall and has no Democratic challenger in next week’s primaries, will appear in court for the first time on Thursday.