THE WHEEL DEAL ABOUT EX-TOP COP’S NIGHT OUT

Af­ter he was found slumped over in his car, Ed­die John­son was ob­served driv­ing er­rat­i­cally on way home, IG re­port finds

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - FRANK MAIN AND FRAN SPIELMAN

Af­ter then-po­lice Supt. Ed­die John­son was found slumped over the wheel of his car last fall on the South Side, a po­lice su­per­vi­sor fol­lowed his in­tox­i­cated boss home as John­son rolled through a stop sign and turned into the wrong lane, ac­cord­ing to a new city in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port.

In­spec­tor Gen­eral Joseph Fer­gu­son’s re­port of­fers the most de­tail yet of the scan­dal that led to John­son’s fir­ing on Dec. 2. He was de­moted to lieu­tenant and re­tired.

John­son lied to the mayor when he said he had a “cou­ple of drinks” but pulled over at 34th and Aberdeen be­cause he felt ill, the re­port said. John­son had re­ceived a kid­ney trans­plant in 2017.

Fer­gu­son’s re­port, re­leased Thurs­day, said John­son and his fe­male driver drank large quan­ti­ties of rum at a down­town restau­rant on the evening of Oct. 16. He drove to po­lice head­quar­ters and dropped her off, and she drove away.

He was in his car when some­one called 911 to re­port a man asleep in his run­ning ve­hi­cle. Of­fi­cers ar­rived at 12:33 a.m. on Oct. 17. As has been pre­vi­ously re­ported, a cop walked to his win­dow and asked “Sir, you al­right?” and “You good, you have your ID?” and John­son showed his ID through the win­dow. “You just sit­ting here or you wanna go home?” the cop asked and John­son said, “I’m good.” “You good, al­right sir, you have a good night,” the cop re­sponded.

The ex­change was cap­tured on the of­fi­cer’s body cam­era, and the video was re­leased by the city last month.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port says a Chicago fire­fighter was on the other side of the car and asked “Hey, what’s go­ing on?” and then walked away.

No field so­bri­ety test was done on John­son and the of­fi­cer who spoke to him de­ac­ti­vated his body cam­era. At 12:38 a.m., two more po­lice cars ar­rived on the scene. One called a dis­patcher for a su­per­vi­sor, who ar­rived at 12:43 a.m. in an un­marked car.

The su­per­vi­sor walked to John­son’s car and the other of­fi­cers got in their cars and left. At 12:46 a.m., John­son drove away, ini­tially trav­el­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion from his South Side home. Dur­ing the ride, John­son rolled through a stop sign and made a slow, wide turn into a wrong lane, the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port said.

Mean­while, two po­lice cars showed up at John­son’s home.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, John­son not only lied that he wasn’t in­tox­i­cated, but also lied when he said he re­ferred the in­ci­dent to the CPD’s in­ter­nal af­fairs in­ves­ti­ga­tors, which never hap­pened.

Fer­gu­son con­sid­ered John­son’s be­hav­ior so egre­gious, he not only rec­om­mended that he be fired and placed on the city’s do-not-hire list, he also rec­om­mended John­son be “found not in good stand­ing and not is­sued Illi­nois Re­tired Of­fi­cer Con­cealed Carry cre­den­tials.”

On the day John­son was fired, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times that mul­ti­ple po­lice em­ploy­ees were un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for en­gag­ing in a wide­spread cover-up to pro­tect him. Fer­gu­son’s new re­port ap­pears to pro­vide more ev­i­dence of that — in­clud­ing a call to a dis­patcher a minute af­ter the su­per­in­ten­dent left the scene say­ing no po­lice ac­tion was needed.

Fer­gu­son’s re­port said the city has un­til July 28 to re­spond to his find­ings. He’ll re­lease an­other re­port about whether the po­lice depart­ment takes ac­tion against any other of­fi­cers be­cause of the John­son in­ci­dent.

The city’s Law Depart­ment has re­fused to re­lease Fer­gu­son’s full re­port to the me­dia. The in­for­ma­tion re­leased Thurs­day was a sum­mary con­tained in a quar­terly re­port that de­scribed other in­ves­ti­ga­tions, too.

John­son and his lawyer Tom Need­ham de­clined to com­ment on Thurs­day’s re­port.

Ald. Chris Tali­a­ferro (29th), the for­mer CPD of­fi­cer now chair­ing the City Coun­cil’s Com­mit­tee on Public Safety, re­sponded Thurs­day to the cover-up nar­ra­tive de­scribed in the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port.

“If the al­le­ga­tions are found to be true — and as of right now, they have not been found to be true — it would be very egre­gious and cer­tainly wor­thy of dis­ci­pline,” Tali­a­ferro said.

Tali­a­ferro said he would await Fer­gu­son’s fi­nal re­port on the re­spond­ing of­fi­cers be­fore passing fi­nal judg­ment.

“If a win­dow was rolled up and [John­son] pre­sented his ID, the of­fi­cers may not have smelled al­co­hol be­cause the win­dows were rolled up. So it’s im­por­tant that we opine on the re­port that’s go­ing to be re­leased af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been com­pleted, rather than to as­sume that all of the al­le­ga­tions are true at this point. They’re not. They’re sim­ply al­le­ga­tions,” he said.

Asked if the su­per­vi­sor who fol­lowed John­son home faces dis­ci­pline, the po­lice depart­ment is­sued a state­ment that it is “re­view­ing the Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port into per­son­nel that re­sponded to the Oc­to­ber 2019 in­ci­dent in­volv­ing Mr. Ed­die John­son. The depart­ment will take any nec­es­sary dis­ci­plinary mea­sures upon their com­plete re­view of that re­port.”

SEE THE VIDEO AT SUN­TIMES.COM Po­lice body­cam footage shows Ed­die John­son be­hind the wheel of his SUV on Oct. 17.

City In­spec­tor Gen­eral Joe Fer­gu­son

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