Chicago Officials Deny Resignation Rumors After Superintendent Found Sleeping
Chicago, IL – Questions continue to swirl around the nap Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson took in his car on the way home from cocktails and dinner with friends but Chicago's top cop said he has no plans to resign.
The incident occurred at about 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 17 when a passerby noticed the situation and called 911 to report it to police, NBC News reported.
Officers responded to the scene and found Superintendent Johnson asleep in his police unit just a few blocks from his home near the 3400-block of South Aberdeen.
They roused him and "did not observe any signs of impairment," so they let him drive himself the rest of the way home, NBC News reported.
Superintendent Johnson initially blamed a blood pressure medication change for the dizziness he said he experienced while driving that caused him to pull over and rest.
The superintendent has had a series of health problems during his almost four-year tenure that included kidney transplant a few years ago and earlier this year, a blood clot, NBC News reported.
He told reporters that he had a follow-up appointment with his cardiologist for the blood clot and the doctor switched up his blood pressure medication.
Superintendent Johnson said he took the one medication out of his regiment but hadn’t gotten around to replacing it with the new medication, according to NBC News.
In response to critics, he announced that in the interest of “transparency,” he had ordered an internal investigation of the incident, NBC News reported.
"All officers ought to be held to the highest standard," Superintendent Johnson said.
Initially, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared to have the superintendent’s back, according to NBC News.
"When I take medication, sometimes it has side effects. I know from my parents. So, I take him at his word," Lightfoot said.
But she also said she was counting on the investigation to sort out the details.
On Friday, Lightfoot revealed that the police superintendent had told her that he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” the night he was found slumped over in his vehicle, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The mayor refused to condemn Superintendent Johnson’s actions or say that he shouldn’t have been driving after drinking.
“I can’t say that. I don’t think you can say that. But no matter what, we’ve got to let the investigation play itself out. He’s a grown man. He had a couple of drinks with dinner,” Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The superintendent usually has a driver to chauffer him around, but the night of the incident, he had let the officer leave after dinner to go home to his family.
“Should I have had a driver with me last night? Yes, I should have,” Superintendent Johnson said.
On Monday, amid criticism and speculation, he announced he had no intention of stepping down from his position, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“What I will say to you is this: I am not resigning, but when it comes to the investigation, I have the answers you all are looking for, of course,” the superintendent said. “But because there is an investigation pending now, I really can’t talk about that, because I don’t want to be accused of trying to steer an investigation one way or another. Because remember, there’s going to be folks that have to be interviewed, and I don’t want to prejudice that interview by saying something publicly.”
There is bodycam video from the officers who responded to the call, but Lightfoot has not revealed whether she has seen it, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“As you know, there’s an ongoing investigation going on to look at the particulars of what happened that night,” the mayor said. “And I’m not going to have any more comment about the particulars until that investigation is over. It’s now, I think today, formally going into the hands of the city’s police inspector general as mandated by the consent decree.”
“That investigation has to be fair, it has to be independent, it has to be expeditious,” she said. “And it can’t be that if I’m commenting on it.”
Chicago Police Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the investigation was being handled by the public integrity unit inside the department’s Internal Affairs Division, NBC News reported.
That unit is made up of officers who are detailed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and who perform their investigations from the FBI’s Chicago field office as a part of a federal consent decree.
"If they have any sense that there was any impropriety, they would refer the case to outside investigative agencies," Guglielmi said.
On Monday night, Lightfoot again defended her top cop and his second in command after a weekend of rumors that both were stepping down, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“No, I don’t know where that’s coming from,” the mayor said. “The superintendent is very much on the job, as is the first deputy, because that’s another rumor that I heard over the weekend.”
“Let’s just be fair,” she continued. “These are two human beings who work their butts off for the city of Chicago, and they’re doing their jobs. So speculation about ‘This one’s resigning or that one,’ that’s not helpful. And we have to keep focusing on making sure that we keep our communities safe.”