Chicago, IL – The Illinois Attorney General’s Office has ruled that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) was wrong when they “improperly denied” a request for documents related to a domestic violence incident involving former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
The attorney general’s office issued a ruling on Nov. 30 that found COPA wrongly withheld police complaint investigation materials requested by the Chicago Tribune after the domestic incident at the former top cop’s home in October of 2020.
The Chicago Tribune had requested “face sheets,” which include the names of officers involved in a complaint, including both those accused and those who were witnesses, and a brief statement detailing the purpose of the disciplinary probe.
The complaint the reporters were searching for was related to the incident that occurred about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2020 when officers responded to the former police superintendent’s home after a verbal altercation spiraled out of control between Johnson and his wife, Chicago Police Lieutenant Nakia Fenner, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
Johnson and Lt. Fenner were arguing when he set fire to her underwear on a bed inside their home in the 1200-block of West 33rd Place in the Bridgeport neighborhood, WBBM reported.
His wife told police she tried to stop him from using an aerosol can like a blowtorch and he pushed her away, sources close to the investigation said.
The police report said that’s when Officer Fenner called the Chicago Police Area Two commander for help, instead of dialing 911, WBBM reported.
The Area Two commander called the Chicago PD’s Deering District and sent a beat car and a supervisor to do a well-being check on the situation at the former police superintendent’s home.
But Johnson had already left the residence before officers arrived, WBBM reported.
Sources said that Lt. Fenner cooperated with investigators; however, a Chicago police spokesperson said Johnson was never arrested because “no complaint filed.”
He was briefly considered “wanted” overnight because he had left the scene, according to WBBM.
Sources said he turned himself in the next afternoon at the 9th District police station.
But when Johnson and Lt. Fenner appeared outside their home on Oct. 24, the former superintendent told WBBM things were fine.
“We had a disagreement. We are fine,” Johnson said.
The supervisor who responded to Johnson and Lt. Fenner’s home the night of the domestic incident was the same Deering District commander who was in charge the night that the former superintendent was allegedly found passed out drunk in his police SUV, WBBM reported.
That incident led to the superintendent announcing that he planned to retire, but was ultimately publicly fired by the Chicago mayor for having lied to her about the incident when it first happened.
In October, eight Chicago police officers were suspended in connection with the incident, including a commander and a lieutenant, WBEZ reported.
When the Chicago Tribune tried to get the documents related to the incident that could be made public, the newspaper said COPA refused to grant the newspaper’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
COPA argued it could withhold the face sheets if disclosing them could interfere with the case, the Chicago Tribune reported.
It also claimed that releasing the documents could tip off officers who didn’t know they were currently being investigation by Internal Affairs.
But on Nov. 30, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office ruled COPA failed to prove that releasing the face sheets would hamper the disciplinary case, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Even if the subject was unaware of the existence of the investigation, police officers who responded to a domestic disturbance at the home of the former police superintendent would have had reason to expect their actions to be closely scrutinized given the circumstances, especially in light of extensive news media coverage of the incident,” the attorney general’s office said.
COPA released the three-page face sheet for the Internal Affairs investigation under that ruling, the Chicago Tribune reported.
It showed a field training officer who was on the scene at Johnson’s home has been accused of “neglect of duty,” but offered no details.
The report said one of the officer’s bosses, a captain in the Deering patrol district, filed the complaint against him, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Don Terry said complaint remained under investigation by Internal Affairs.