It was barely Thursday when someone in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago called 911 to report a person asleep in an SUV at a stop sign.
When police officers arrived around 12:30 a.m., they found their boss, Superintendent Eddie Johnson, “slumped over” in his city-issued Chevrolet Tahoe, according to officials and news reports.
Officers did not see any signs of impairment, and Johnson, who reported parking his car after feeling lightheaded, was allowed to drive himself home, the police said.
Later that day, the superintendent called for an internal investigation into what happened, citing the need for transparency. Speaking to reporters Thursday night, he blamed blood pressure medication for the episode.
The superintendent called for an investigation because “whether you are police officer or a superintendent, all officers ought to be held to the highest standard,” a Police Department spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said in a statement Thursday.
But the episode took a turn on Friday after Mayor Lori Lightfoot told The Chicago Sun-Times that Superintendent Johnson disclosed to her that he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” before being found asleep in his vehicle.
He was not given a sobriety test after officers roused him, and Lightfoot told The Sun-Times that she was awaiting the outcome of the internal investigation to determine if the responding officers skirted rules to protect their boss, and whether Johnson should be held responsible.
In a separate statement Friday, Guglielmi said the police “have no indication of impropriety at this time,” adding that “this question can only be answered by the internal affairs investigation,” which he said was continuing.
The mayor declined to say whether the superintendent should have been driving or given a field sobriety test, The Sun-Times reported. The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment Saturday, and the superintendent could not be reached.
The police said Johnson complained of feeling exhausted Wednesday. He sent his driver home that day, but said he should have had one with him.
Johnson told reporters that he did not take his blood pressure medication after his doctor changed it this week. He said he threw out his old medication, but “failed to put the new medication in.”
The superintendent had a blood clot this past summer, The Tribune reported, and in 2017, he underwent a kidney transplant.
This episode with the superintendent was the latest to draw attention to the Police Department. In 2018, an officer was convicted of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald and, more recently, 63 men and women were exonerated after having been convicted on drug charges in arrests by two corrupt police officers.
Johnson was named to the post in 2016. His predecessor, Garry F. McCarthy, was fired days after the release of the video of McDonald’s shooting.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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