Slurring New Jersey state senator namedrops powerful cop pal after drink-driving arrest


A slurring state senator appeared to threaten a cop who arrested her over a drink driving crash by requesting the presence of a local public safety boss.

Newly-released bodycam footage of New Jersey lawmaker Sandra Cunningham’s March DWI arrest saw her asking the unnamed cop to summon Jersey City’s Public Safety Director James Shea.  

Her demand was rendered partially-inaudible on the bodycam by the bleep of a cop’s walkie-talkie, although she could be heard saying Shea’s name. 

But the officer performing the traffic stop seemed unimpressed with 70 year-old Cunningham’s name-dropping. 

‘What does Director Shea have to do with anything right now?’ he inquired of Cunningham. 

She replied: ‘Well, because I can see that you’re looking for something that isn’t there.’ 

The officer snapped: ‘So Director Shea has zero to do with…this stop, though, right now, ma’am.’ 

Shea, who is in charge of the city’s police, fire and emergency management and Homeland Security Departments, apparently never made it to the scene of the traffic stop. 

The bodycam footage was released ahead of Cunningham’s first court appearance, scheduled for June 3.  

Cunningham’s arrest saw her fail a field sobriety test and admit she was feeling ‘unsteady’ on her feet. She was captured lifting a sheaf of cards out of her wallet after being asked to produce an ID, and dropping some onto the ground.   

Cunningham, a Democrat who has represented the 31st Legislative District, which includes Bayonne and Jersey City, since 2007, was pulled over by the police on the morning of March 4 after she crashed into two legally parked cars.

Cunningham told officers she was about to make a turn near her home in Jersey City but hit a snowbank, according to a police incident report.

In the video, the Democrat fails a field sobriety test and complains of feeling 'unsteady'

Body camera video has been released from the March 4 DWI arrest of New Jersey State Senator Sandra Cunningham. In it, the Democrat fails a field sobriety test and complains of feeling ‘unsteady’

Cunningham, 70, was pulled over by the police after allegedly crashing her SUV into two parked cars not far from her Jersey City home

Cunningham, 70, was pulled over by the police after allegedly crashing her SUV into two parked cars not far from her Jersey City home 

In the body camera footage that was released on Friday in response to The Jersey Journal’s public records request, Cunningham, 70, appears to have trouble stating her address and following an officer’s instructions as part of a field sobriety test.

During her hour-long interaction with the police, Cunningham twice asks to summon Jersey City Public Safety Director Shea (pictured)

During her hour-long interaction with the police, Cunningham twice asks to summon Jersey City Public Safety Director Shea (pictured)

The state lawmaker says she feels ‘unsteady,’ but denies drinking alcohol or taking any medication. 

During her hour-long interaction with the police, Cunningham twice asks to call to the scene Jersey City Public Safety Director Shea. 

Cunningham ultimately abandons her failed efforts to place one foot in front of the other, as ordered by the officer, telling him she is feeling ‘unsteady.’ 

‘I asked if you had any medical conditions, you said “no” and now while we are doing the test now you are feeling unsteady,’ the officer tells the woman.  

Cunningham denies drinking alcohol or taking any medication

Cunningham denies drinking alcohol or taking any medication

After requesting medical assistance, police place Cunningham in handcuffs and lead her to an awaiting ambulance

After requesting medical assistance, police place Cunningham in handcuffs and lead her to an awaiting ambulance  

Cunningham later reportedly claimed to a friend that the crash was caused by an adverse reaction to medication

Cunningham later reportedly claimed to a friend that the crash was caused by an adverse reaction to medication

‘You can feel unsteady at any time,’ Cunningham argues.

She then launches into an explanation that she previously thought she felt fine, but that has since changed. 

‘I could see now that I am not as steady as I should be,’ Cunningham says.

The septuagenarian state senator initially declined medical help but later requested medical attention. 

As police went to place handcuffs on Cunningham before leading her to an ambulance, she tried to resist, telling them: ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no.’

Cunningham has represented the 31st Legislative District, which includes Bayonne and Jersey City, since 2007

Cunningham has represented the 31st Legislative District, which includes Bayonne and Jersey City, since 2007

Cunningham has pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated. 

A blood alcohol test was performed in the wake of her arrest, although the results of that have yet to be shared.  

In the body camera video, she denied consuming any alcohol when questioned by the police. 

‘Is there a reason why you’re swaying and you have slurred speech and you’re having difficulty to perform basic directions?’ the officer asks her. 

Cunningham tells him she is ‘very cold.’ 

Another video from the scene shows the 70-year-old struggling to state her address on Willow Street, instead saying that she lives on West Street. 

Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey told NorthJersey.com and The Record in March that he picked Cunningham up from a police station after her arrest and she told him the crash was caused by an adverse reaction to medication.

However, in the newly released body camera video, Cunningham tells police she is not taking any medication. 

Cunningham, who is up for reelection in the fall and has no Democratic challenger in next week’s primary, is scheduled to make her initial court appearance on Thursday.



Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button