Chicago releases video of ex-top cop asleep at the wheel
|Toronto Star 29 Jun 2020 at 22:08|
CHICAGO - Documents, audio of a civilian 911 call and police body camera footage showing the former head of Chicago police allegedly asleep in October at the wheel of his vehicle were released to the public Monday by the city of Chicago.
A civilian saw former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson SUV stopped at a South Side street corner slumped in his seat. Audio of a 911 call reveals the man telling a police dispatcher that the SUV’s lights were off but smoke was coming out the vehicle’s exhaust.
The city’s inspector general said it was investigating what happened on that October night, but the agency didn’t release a report on the its findings.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired Johnson in December citing “ethical lapses” that included telling lies about being found asleep at the wheel of his car after having drinks. In his initial remarks about the matter, Johnson blamed his failure to take blood pressure medication and feeling ill as he drove home from dinner with friends.
At the time of her firing of Johnson, Lightfoot said he eventually admitted to her that he was out to dinner with friends and had a few drinks before dismissing his driver and taking himself home.
The police body camera footage released Monday shows Johnson at the wheel when an officer arrives and takes his information. The officer asks Johnson if he wants to sit in the vehicle or go home. He says he wants to go home, then drives off after the officer wishes him good night.
Johnson defended his driving home without being tested for whether he had been drinking, saying, “Someone asleep in a car doesn’t mean they’re impaired.”
After his firing, Johnson said in a statement he did not “intentionally mislead or deceive“ anyone about the incident, adding he made a “poor decision” and had a “lapse of judgment.”
Before being dismissed, Johnson, who was appointed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, announced his retirement from the Chicago Police Department after three years as superintendent, saying he wanted to spend more time with family. Johnson is collecting a pension of about $16,000 monthly, according to city documents.
Prior to Monday, city officials declined to release the video and documents, pointing to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s continuing investigation. After releasing the information Monday, Chicago’s Law Department spokeswoman Kathleen Fieweger refused to say when the city received the documents from Ferguson.