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Chicago's top cop had 10 drinks before falling asleep behind the wheel. 7 officers who looked the other way are now suspended

Oct 16, 2020
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CHICAGO – Seven officers have been suspended for their actions the night the city’s top cop was found passed out behind the wheel after drinking, according to a report issued Friday by the Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General.

The officers failed to conduct a competent investigation, recorded body-worn camera footage in violation of policy, made false statements, and more. The investigation also revealed gaps in officer training and potential shortcomings in partner assignments, according to the report.

A year ago Friday, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, 59, was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV at a stop sign. He had consumed “several large servings of rum . . the equivalent of 10 alcoholic beverages,” according to the report. Officers responding to the scene allowed Johnson to drive home.

Johnson called for an investigation of his own actions, saying he fell asleep because of a change in his blood pressure medication. Soon after, Mayor Lori Lightfoot hosted what she later called a “celebratory press conference to announce his retirement.” But a month before his expected retirement, Lightfoot fired Johnson following revelations from the Inspector General’s Office.

None of the officers currently face criminal charges.

The Office of the Inspector General of the City of Chicago is an independent office intended to root out corruption, waste, and mismanagement and is a “watchdog for the taxpayers of the City,” according to the office. It has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits over most aspects of city government. Joseph Ferguson currently serves as inspector general.

Seven officers involved that night “failed to effectively carry out their duties in the handling and aftermath” of the incident, according to the office, which recommended suspending six of the officers and discharging one.

Two responding probationary officers “failed to gather evidence necessary” to determine if Johnson could drive home, such as where he was coming from or whether he had been drinking, according to the report.

Two other officers, and a sergeant, “allowed the superintendent to drive his vehicle, knowing he was unfit to drive,” according to the report. One claimed that the superintendent “looked normal.”

A lieutenant supervising the initial responding officers watched body cam footage of the incident and recorded it on his cell phone, then “made false statements and omissions about these actions,” according to the report. The lieutenant sent the video to the district commander, who did not report the policy violation.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks during a news conference in Chicago on March 26, 2019.Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks during a news conference in Chicago on March 26, 2019.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks during a news conference in Chicago on March 26, 2019.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown suspended the two probationary officers for one day each, two other officers for seven days, a sergeant for 14 days, a lieutenant for 21 days and a commander for 28 days, according to the report. The inspector general had recommended that the lieutenant be discharged and placed on an ineligible for rehire list.

The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that it was “in the process of meeting with each member to provide the formal paperwork.”

“After the paperwork has been served . . . officers and supervisors have 10 days to notify the Department about whether they accept the penalties or if they are electing to begin the grievance process,” the department said.

This week, Johnson’s former driver who was drinking with him on the night in question filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Johnson. The former superintendent has denied the allegations made by the former driver, Cynthia Donald.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks to reporters outside the scene where a mother and nine-year-old boy were shot, Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 19, 2020, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHS307Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks to reporters outside the scene where a mother and nine-year-old boy were shot, Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 19, 2020, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHS307
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks to reporters outside the scene where a mother and nine-year-old boy were shot, Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 19, 2020, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHS307

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chicago’s top cop Eddie Johnson had 10 drinks before found asleep

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