The city released a trove of documents and footage Monday related to the incident last October in which former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was found asleep at the wheel of his SUV near his home in Bridgeport.
Among the materials released was a bodycam video from one of the officers who discovered Johnson in his SUV near 34th Place and Aberdeen shortly after midnight on Oct. 17, 2019.
The footage shows two officers walking up to Johnson’s SUV, one on each side. Johnson can be seen in the driver’s seat with his eyes closed as one of the officers shines a flashlight inside.
The officer knocked on the window, saying: “Sir? Sir? You all right? You good? Got your ID?”
After several seconds, Johnson pulls out some form of identification and holds it up to the window.
The officer who knocked on the window then asks: “You just sitting here, or you wanna go home?” Johnson replies: “I’m good.” The officer then says: “You good? All right, sir. Have a good night.”
The officer then walked away and turned off his camera without making Johnson undergo any field sobriety tests.
Though the city only released a single video of the incident, sources said several more exist that show Johnson interacting with responding officers.
The incident, which Johnson initially attributed to a change in his medication, proved to be the downfall of the former superintendent.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Johnson later admitted to her that he was out to dinner with friends and had a few drinks before dismissing his driver and taking himself home.
Lightfoot soon fired Johnson — a month before he was scheduled to retire after more than 30 years with the CPD — saying he had lied to her and the public about what happened that night.
While investigating the failure to administer the sobriety test and whether rules were bent to protect the boss, Inspector General Joe Ferguson may have found evidence of a cover-up by others in the police department, sources have told the Sun-Times.
Sources say Ferguson’s report on the alleged cover-up of the Johnson incident has been completed and turned over to the Law Department.
The Sun-Times has filed a Freedom of Information request for the inspector general’s follow-up report, but the Lightfoot administration denied the request.
That’s even though the mayor persuaded the City Council to approve an ordinance allowing release of those reports.
“Summary reports of OIG investigations are prohibited from release under FOIA. Under the Municipal Code, at the discretion of the Corporation Counsel, to be eligible for release a summary report must contain sustained findings of conduct that either is associated with a death, or is or may be a felony, as defined in the Illinois Criminal Code and is of a compelling public interest,” Law Department spokesperson Kathleen Fieweger wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.
The Sun-Times has reported that, rather than having “a couple of drinks” during a “dinner with friends,” as Johnson told the mayor, he spent three hours drinking at a restaurant known for serving tall drinks with a woman whom he had promoted to his security detail shortly after becoming superintendent.
After leaving Ceres Cafe, Johnson drove his police SUV to police headquarters and dropped off the woman, sources said. He tried to drive to his Bridgeport home but was found asleep with the engine running around 12:30 a.m. in the 3400 block of South Aberdeen.
In a statement issued the day after his firing, Johnson said he did “not intentionally mislead or deceive the mayor or the people of Chicago.”
“I acknowledge that I made a poor decision and had a lapse of judgment on the night of Oct. 16. That was a mistake, and I know that. However, I have no interest in fighting a battle for my reputation with those that want to question it now,” Johnson was quoted as saying.
“Reputations are not built in a day and not damaged in a day, either. They are the result of years of living. We reap what we sow in this world. I will simply rely on the reputation for integrity that I think I have earned during my long career with the faith that we should all be judged by the entirety of our lives and not on what happened on our worst days.”