CHICAGO — Seven Chicago police officers have been suspended for their roles the night then-Superintendent Eddie Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV after having several drinks at a bar, according to a report by the city’s inspector general released Friday.
Superintendent David Brown decided to suspend two probationary officers for one day each, two other officers for seven days, a sergeant for 14 days, a lieutenant for 21 days and a commander for 28 days, according to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s report.
Brown’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it was not clear if the suspensions have been served.
The report was issued exactly one year from the night of the incident that ultimately led to Johnson’s firing and just two days after Johnson’s former driver who was drinking with him that night filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Johnson. Johnson has denied the allegations made by the former driver, Cynthia Donald.
Much of what is in the report had already been made public. But the report includes details about how officers were concerned about Johnson’s fitness to drive and how after he was allowed to drive home he proceeded the wrong way down a street. While Ferguson’s report stopped short of concluding the officers deliberately covered anything up, it did find that the officers’ “actions created the impression of giving the superintendent preferential treatment.”
That impression started with the fact that the two probationary officers did not ask Johnson where he had been or whether he had been drinking, “questions that would have been appropriate in a situation involving a call of an individual slumped over the wheel who is suspected to be intoxicated,” Ferguson wrote.
Further, the officers never gave Johnson a roadside sobriety test and allowed Johnson to drive home after he did nothing more than roll down his window 2 inches.
In fact, despite one officer saying that Johnson “looked normal,” officers followed Johnson to his home “apparently out of concern that he would not get home safely.” They continued to let him drive even though when he pulled away, he drove away and not toward his home.
The officers were not named in the report, but it says one of the officers who faces a seven-day suspension had “consumed several large servings of rum” with the superintendent that night. Donald, the officer who filed the lawsuit this week, has acknowledged she was with Johnson that night.
But Donald’s attorney, Robert McLaughlin, in an email to the Chicago Tribune, disputed the inspector general’s findings that she was intoxicated that night when she drove a city vehicle.
While Johnson admitted to Mayor Lori Light foot that he’d had “a couple of drinks” that night, he blamed his condition on a change in his blood pressure medication. Later, media reports and surveillance video from a Chicago bar revealed he had been drinking heavily that night, and Lightfoot fired him for what she said were lies about his actions.