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Supt. Johnson Told Mayor, But Not Reporters, He Was Drinking Before He Was Found In His Car

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Superintendent Eddie Johnson stressed transparency in a Thursday night news conference and opened an investigation into himself. But at no time did Johnson ever mention he was drinking -- a key detail that he told the mayor but simply didn't tell a group of reporters.

"Just someone being asleep in a car doesn't mean they are impaired in any way," Johnson said Thursday.

But it is a signal for officers to investigate.

Thurday morning around 12:45 a.m., Johnson was found slumped over, unconscious on the wheel of his car near 34th and Aberdeen.

Police sources say several protocols weren't followed, like calling for an ambulance when someone is found in the condition Johnson was.

"If someone looks impaired or intoxicated or if they smell alcohol or cannabis for that matter then they will conduct that but if they don't think there's any reason to then they wont," Johnson said.

But Johnson wasn't asked to do a breathalyzer, he didn't give blood and was never challenged to walk a straight line.

He was allowed to drive off in his city car after giving his driver the night off.

Johnson blamed it all on a blood-pressure medication mix-up and never revealed what he apparently told his boss Mayor Lori Lightfoot about that dinner out with friends. Lightfoot relayed their conversation, though she said she didn't specifically ask if he'd been drinking.

"He revealed that he had a couple drinks with dinner," Lighfoot said.

Johnson admitted that he drank and he took medication before driving. Can he be charged with a crime?

"Absolutely but the problem is there is no proof he committed a crime," said CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller. "Therefore there's no way that law enforcement or the state's attorney is going to charge him with any type of alcohol-related offense."

There's no proof, because those field protocols weren't followed, say police sources.

The police board prohibits "drinking alcoholic beverages while on duty or in uniform, or transporting alcoholic beverages on or in Department property, except in the performance of police duty."

Johnson was off duty, but Chicago Police won't tell CBS 2 if he was in uniform.

The officers' body cameras were turned over to investigators as Johnson has asked for the entire incident to be reviewed. CPD's spokesman declined to comment on the phone conversation between Johnson and Mayor Lightfoot, saying it could jeopardize the internal investigation.


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