NJ Police Video Shows Ian Smith Hesitate During Field Sobriety Test
CINNAMINSON — Video footage of congressional candidate and gym owner Ian Smith's traffic stop before his recent drunk driving arrest seems to contradict his claim that he passed a roadside sobriety test.
Cinnaminson police released several files of body cam and dashcam footage on Thursday of the stop around midnight on March 27. The footage shows Smith's black pickup truck driving on Route 130 and not staying completely in its lane.
Smith is a candidate in the 3rd congressional district Republican primary in an attempt to unseat Democrat Andy Kim. He gained notoriety during the pandemic for defying Gov. Phil Murphy's mandates that prohibited gyms from opening their indoor facilities. His Atilis Gym in Bellmawr racked up thousands of dollars in fines and the loss of the businesses' mercantile license.
Smith was charged in 2007 with causing the death of Atlantic County College student Kevin Ade. He was also charged ile the other charges were dismissed. He was sentenced in 2008 to five years and six months in pwith possession of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide whrison with three years of supervised release.
What the video shows
The video shows Smith's black pickup truck being pulled over into the parking lot of the Pandora Diner. Officers then conduct a sobriety test, which includes Smith following the light of a flashlight.
Smith exits his pickup and hesitates during the next test of walking in a straight line while putting one foot in front of the other after the officer demonstrates the test.
At Smith's request, the group of three officers walks across the parking lot to continue the test where all the spaces are empty and he can walk on the white line. Smith continues to be unsure of his steps and is told that they are going back to the police station for another test.
"Ho-ho-ho-ho-hold on. Why are you taking me into custody?" Smith asks.
Police tell him it's because he was driving while intoxicated. Smith bristles when told to take a breathalyzer test.
"You're taking me into custody. I didn't fail anything," Smith said as he is handcuffed with his hands behind his back.
The officer explains that per state law based on an officer's observation, a breathalyzer test is administered at the police station to determine a blood alcohol level.
"What observation," Smith asks. "You're standing out here on a windy road, you're submitting me to balance tests, which I did not too well at?"
"You did not pass," the officer says, explaining he almost ran another car off the road.
Smith is hesitant to get in the patrol vehicle.
He is then walked across the parking lot and placed in the back of a patrol car and questions why his pickup is going to be impounded under the terms of John's Law.
John's Law allows police to hold a vehicle involved in a DWI arrest for 12 hours to impede the driver from getting behind the wheel again.
Smith and the officers who responded all maintained their cool and no one raised their voice.
Conversation on the way to the police station
Smith continues to question the allegations as he is driven to the Cinnaminson police station.
"Why did I fail that test?" Smith asks.
"Based off my observations, you did not pass," the officer tells Smith.
"You haven't specified anything," Smith says.
"It will be indicated in my report. Also it's more than my observations of your test, your driving, OK. It's all in my dashcam how poor your driving was, how poor your tests were. All that gets indicated in the report," the officer says.
"Do you get paid for doing this right now?" Smith asks.
“I’m doing my job, I don’t know what you mean. Get paid to do what?” the officer says.
As they drive through Cinnaminson police headquarters, Smith tells the officer he is a candidate for Congress. The officer does not initially react to Smith as he is speaking on the police radio.
"Just do your job. I don't want to talk anymore. I'm going to say something ... I got respect for you guys," Smith says.
"I understand that. I think I've been nothing but respectful with you," the officer says.
"I haven't done anything wrong and you're telling me I'm under arrest and you essentially put me in handcuffs against my will," Smith said as the dashcam video ends.
Smith said he passed the field test
Cinnaminson Police Chief Richard A. Calabrese told New Jersey 101.5 that Smith was stopped around 12:25 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of the Pandora Diner on Route 130. He was taken to police headquarters and also charged with reckless driving, careless driving and refusing to consent to a breathalyzer test among other offenses.
“Ian Smith was not driving drunk," his campaign consultant Steve Kush said in a statement. "Ian Smith is innocent. Bodycam footage will show Ian passed a field sobriety test. The Cinnaminson police department should immediately release the body cam footage to every news outlet immediately."
According to the police report obtained by Politico's Matt Friedman, the officer saw Smith's pickup "failing to maintain its lane" and almost ran another vehicle off the road.
The officer said he could immediately smell alcohol when he first spoke to Smith whose eyes he described as "bloodshot and watery." Smith refused to not only take a breathalyzer but would not move his head so a booking photo could not be taken.