Video: Body camera footage released by the city of Chicago on Monday, June 29, 2020 shows an Chicago police officer’s encounter with then-Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was found asleep in his car on Oct. 17, 2019.
The city of Chicago on Monday released body camera video and several reports detailing an incident last fall in which former police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was found by officers asleep behind the wheel of his SUV after a night of drinking.
The video and documents come more than eight months after the encounter near the intersection of 34th Place and Aberdeen Street in the Bridgeport neighborhood. Not included in the document release was the yet-to-be-published report from Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.
In the three-minute body camera video, officers can be seen approaching Johnson’s vehicle as he is asleep inside. The officer asks Johnson if he is OK, and the superintendent says he is good. The superintendent eventually shows the officer an ID, and the officer asks, “You just sitting here or you wanna go home?”
Johnson says,“I’m good,” and the officer responds by saying, “Alright sir, have a good night,” before walking from the car. The video ends as the officer walks back to his squad vehicle.
Johnson appeared to be alone in the vehicle.
Johnson initially told reporters he was driving home at about 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 17, after having let his driver go home to his family, when he felt lightheaded. He said he pulled over and fell asleep.
After someone called 911 to report a man sleeping inside his vehicle, responding officers found Johnson slumped over but allowed him to drive home and did not administer a Breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test. Johnson said officers do such tests only when a motorist appears impaired or officers smell alcohol or cannabis.
He said the medical episode was the result of not following doctor’s orders.
But Johnson was reportedly seen at Ceres Café downtown for hours drinking with a female officer who was a member of his security team. When officers found him in his car later that night, Johnson flashed his superintendent’s badge and drove off.
In April, six months after the incident, Lightfoot said she was “extremely unhappy” that Ferguson had not yet completed his six-month investigation into what happened that evening.
Included in the documents was a report from the Office of Emergency Management & Communications which showed a passerby called 911 in regards to a “driver slumped over wheel at stop sign.” Chicago Fire Department records also show a fire truck responded to the scene, but they were “informed by the CPD that no patient was on the scene,” as Johnson had already left.
Weeks before his planned retirement date, Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired the superintendent, claiming he “repeatedly lied” both to her and the public about his actions that night.
One of the documents included in Monday’s release was Lightfoot’s letter to Johnson informing him of his “termination for cause.”
“It is therefore in the best interests of the City of Chicago that you are relieved of your duties,” she wrote, “so that the employees of the nation’s second largest police department can be properly represented.”
A day after he was fired, Johnson issued a statement through his attorney saying that while he made a “poor decision” that night, he did not “intentionally mislead or deceive the mayor or the people of Chicago.”
Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck filled in as Johnson’s replacement on an interim basis until April, when Lightfoot and the City Council approved David Brown as the new permanent superintendent.