Multiple employees in the Chicago Police Department are being investigated alongside fired superintendent Eddie Johnson for allegedly helping him cover up an Oct. 17 incident in which he was found asleep in his car, according to a report.
Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday that the alleged cover-up – which happened “that night and the next day” — might end up being “even worse than” the incident itself and is being reviewed by the inspector general’s office. Johnson was fired Monday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot for committing, in her words, a “series of ethical lapses.”
Prior to his termination, Johnson had publicly blamed an issue with his medication for the Oct. 17 incident, saying he felt lightheaded while driving home and pulled over and fell asleep. He also told Lightfoot he’d had “a couple of drinks with dinner” earlier that night.
But details are emerging this week alleging much more actually happened.
The Sun-Times, after reporting that Johnson was seen drinking for hours with a female member of his security detail at a downtown restaurant before the incident, cited sources as saying that he and the woman were pictured on restaurant video kissing repeatedly as well.
The woman, during an interview with the inspector generals’ office, described Johnson as only a friend, but noted that they would frequently talk to each other as their marriages were undergoing turbulence, the newspaper added.
She since has been reassigned to another position within the Chicago Police Department and records showed she filed for divorce from her husband last year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Sources told the newspaper the woman admitted to drinking with Johnson. Later that night, Johnson drove her in his police SUV back to headquarters before dropping her off and attempting to head home, they added.
It was during that trip Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel, the sources said.
The Chicago Sun-Times, citing the sources, reported that Johnson flashed his badge to officers who responded to a 911 call of a parked vehicle. They asked him if he was OK, the newspaper added, to which Johnson replied that he was, before being allowed to drive home without taking a sobriety test.
Lightfoot said Monday while announcing Johnson’s firing that the “13,400 sworn and civilian members of the Chicago Police Department who work hard every day deserve a leader who they can believe in.”
“Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of October 17,” she added. “Had I known all the facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there.”
Lightfoot declined to offer details “out of deference” to Johnson’s wife and children and the ongoing investigation. The report may become public in the future, she said.
Johnson then fired back at Lightfoot’s statements Tuesday.
“One thing I want everyone to know is this: I did not intentionally mislead or deceive the Mayor or the people of Chicago,” he said in a rebuttal issued by his attorney, Tom Needham.
Johnson said he made a “poor decision and had a lapse of judgment” that October night, which “was a mistake and I know that.”
Yet, he added that he has “no interest in fighting a battle” for his reputation with those who “want to question it now.”
Needham told the Associated Press afterward that the former police chief would not have comments beyond his statement.
When asked about the video allegedly showing his client and the woman kissing, Needham told the Sun-Times he hasn’t seen the purported footage and has “no comment” on that matter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.