Body camera footage from the Cinnaminson Police Department officers who arrested Republican congressional candidate Ian Smith on charges of intoxicated driving reveal Smith’s defiance during the arrest, with the Bellmawr gym owner asking one officer whether the officer was arresting him for money.
Smith was pulled over early in the morning on March 27, after Cinnaminson PD officers noticed his Ford pickup truck failing to maintain its lane and swerving towards another car on Route 130 North. When one officer approached Smith’s truck, Smith said that his erratic driving was due to his truck’s death wobble, a phenomenon that can make some cars’ steering wheel oscillate side to side.
The officer observed Smith’s bloodshot eyes and a smell of alcohol, and asked Smith to step out of the car for a series of field sobriety tests.
After conducting three balance and eye-coordination tests, the officer determined Smith was not sober enough to drive, and told Smith he would be taken to police headquarters for a breathalyzer test. As officers put on handcuffs, Smith insisted that he had not failed the field tests, blaming his lack of balance on the visibly strong wind.
“You’re taking me into custody when I didn’t fail anything,” Smith said. “You’re standing out here on a windy road, you’re submitting me to balance tests, which – did I not do well at?”
“You did not pass from my observation,” the officer responded.
Immediately after the news of the DUI arrest broke last month, Smith’s campaign claimed that the candidate had passed the field sobriety test, a claim which has now been disproven.
Despite his verbal protestations, Smith fully cooperated and did not resist arrest. On the drive to the police station, a handcuffed Smith implied that the decision to arrest him was a corrupt one.
“Did you get paid for this?” Smith asked.
“I’m doing my job, I don’t know what you mean – get paid to do what?” the officer responded.
Smith also noted to the as a candidate for office.
“You know I’m a congressional candidate in this district, right?” he said.
The evidence-free claim that the officer was on a payroll is one that has been insinuated by the campaign in the days since, with campaign consultant Steve Kush saying on March 29 that he “wondered why Ian was pulled over in the first place.”
“The governor obviously hates him!” Kush said. “Establishment politicians don’t want him. Andy Kim and the Democrats continuously send emails using Ian’s name to raise money… Ian has a distrust of government in New Jersey after being persecuted by the governor and government agencies for two years.”
According to the police report, Smith refused to take a breathalyzer test while in the police station, something not captured by body camera footage; the Smith campaign claims he did so out of a fear he was being set up.
Smith has an unfortunate history with driving under the influence. At age 20, he hit and killed a 19-year-old while alcohol was still in his system, something for which he served jail time and which he has said he is still atoning for to this day.
Early in the pandemic, Smith’s refusal to shut down his gym in accordance with Gov. Phil Murphy’s public health orders made him a hero in anti-lockdown circles. Smith has banked on that notoriety to propel his off-the-line congressional bid in the 3rd district, where party-endorsed Republican Bob Healey and Democratic incumbent Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) are both running.
This story was updated at 1:07 p.m. with a correction: Smith was pulled over on Route 130, not Route 137.