Chicago, IL – A report released by the Inspector General on Friday showed that although officers failed to give former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson a sobriety test and let him drive home after they found him passed out in his police SUV, none of them deliberately covered up for their boss.
The investigation began after officers found then-Superintendent Johnson sleeping behind the wheel at the intersection of 34th Place and Aberdeen Street in the Deering District at about 12:33 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2019, the Herald & Review reported.
The city released bodycam video of the incident in June that showed officers responded to a 911 call that reported a man asleep at a stop sign in a running vehicle.
The video showed the officer knocked on the window of the black SUV and asked the sleeping driver if he was okay.
“Sir, sir, you alright? You good?” the officer asked as he knocked on the driver’s window.
“Yeah,” Superintendent Johnson replied in the video.
“Can I get your ID?” the officer asked, not having recognized his boss.
It took Superintendent Johnson the better part of a minute to fish out his credentials and offer them out the window to the officer.
The officer’s surprise registered on his face as it reflected on the police superintendent’s window in the video.
“You just sitting here or you wanna go home?” he asked Superintendent Johnson.
“I’m good,” Superintendent Johnson replied.
“You good?” the officer asked, not sounding convinced. “All right, sir. Have a good night.”
Then the video showed he walked back to his police vehicle and allowed the inebriated police official to drive home.
In the Inspector General’s July quarterly report, Inspector General Joe Ferguson revealed that Chicago police followed their boss home and watched him run a stop sign and cross into the wrong lane briefly, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The report released on Oct. 16 – a year after the night former Superintendent Johnson went drinking with his driver – painted a picture of a police official getting special treatment and outlined what the officers failed to do according to policy, the Herald & Review reported.
The officers who responded to the call were both rookies – probationary officers with less than three years’ experience combined – and neither of them had ever conducted a DUI stop before, according to the Inspector General’s report.
The investigation determined that only one of those officers had turned on his bodycam for the stop, the Herald & Review reported.
The inspector general’s office recommended the Chicago Police Department review the pairing of officers in the future to ensure competent investigations that “strengthen understanding and expectations that situations involving possible legal infractions of sworn personnel be met with the same rigor and standard of care as those involving members of the public.”
That report summary said the superintendent’s driver drove home in a city vehicle, too, after drinking with her boss earlier that night, the Herald & Review reported.
The driver, who was the security detail officer, has also been accused of taking a SIM card out of a cellphone that the Inspector General’s office wanted to investigate, the Chicago Tribune reported.
On Thursday, Chicago Police Officer Cynthia Donald filed a lawsuit against the former police superintendent and the mayor that alleged her boss had sexually assaulted and sexually harassed her for the three years she worked for him.
Chicago Police Commander Donald Jerome, a 26-year-veteran of the force who is the commander of the Deering District where the superintendent passed out, was meted out the harshest punishment by the inspector general, the Herald & Review reported.
Cmdr. Jerome is facing a 28-day suspension for failing to file a report on the lieutenant who filmed the bodycam footage onto his phone and sent it to his commander, in violation of Chicago police policy.
The lieutenant is facing a 21-day suspension for that and for lying about filming the footage with his cell phone when he was interviewed about it, the Herald & Review reported.
The inspector general’s report concluded that former Superintendent Johnson had about 10 rum cocktails before getting behind the wheel that night.