City releases bodycam video of incident that led to former CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson firing

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
City releases video of incident that led to Eddie Johnson's firing
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According to paperwork released by the city, it was reported as a "person down for an unknown cause." The case report called it a "high profile incident."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city of Chicago released documents and video Monday, detailing the incident that eventually led to the firing of former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Among the material is police body camera footage from one of the officers, who responded to a report of a man slumped over the wheel at 34th and Aberdeen in Bridgeport after midnight on October 17, 2019.

RELATED: 'I made a poor decision': Eddie Johnson addresses firing as CPD superintendent

The video of Johnson slumped over the wheel at a stop sign after midnight is a picture book version of his career-ending event. It began with a 911 call from a passerby.

"I think there's somebody asleep in their car, they're like parked at the stop sign at 34th and Aberdeen, yeah, 34th and Aberdeen," the caller says.

"I drove past him twice, that is when I realized he is still sitting there," the caller continues. "Lights are off but the exhaust is coming out so the car is I on. He's, like, in the street where a car would be if it was just stopping. About to turn."

According to paperwork released by the city, it was reported as a "person down for an unknown cause." The case report called it a "high profile incident."

Video from an officer who responded to the scene shows him knocking on Johnson's window saying, "Sir? Sir, are you alright?"

Johnson gives a muffled reply, at which time the officer asks, "Do you have your ID?"

They wait and wait for Johnson to show them his ID. The superintendent, in the dark Chevy Tahoe he typically did not drive himself, was apparently fumbling for his identification.

Officers waited patiently without saying another words. Finally, 44 seconds after being asked, Johnson displays what may have been a police ID.

"Uh, do you want to sit here or do you want to go home?" the officer asks in the video.

"Nah, I'm good," Johnson replies.

"You good?" the officer repeats. Johnson nods. "Alright, sir, have a good night."

ABC7 was part of the legal fight that resulted in the release of the video and related recordings and records, joining a lawsuit filed by the Better Government Association.

Johnson first said the incident was the result of a medication change, and later told Mayor Lori Lightfoot he had a few drinks with friends.

RELATED: Mayor Lori Lightfoot says CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson had 'a couple of drinks' before medical episode

However, the mayor said after reviewing a report from the Inspector General that it was clear Johnson lied about that night. She fired him.

The recordings and records answer some questions, but not why Johnson wasn't given a field sobriety test. He said at the time that just because someone is asleep in a car doesn't mean they're impaired. For now, that remains the only explanation on the record.

RELATED: Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announces retirement

ABC7 reached out to Johnson's lawyer for comment but did not hear back. A police department spokesman said they are still evaluating possible disciplinary action against other officers involved in the incident.