Evidence tampering alleged in police chief firing case

Eddie Johnson

FILE – In this March 26, 2019, file photo, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks during a news conference in Chicago. When fellow officers discovered Johnson asleep behind the wheel of his running SUV, they did not conduct any sobriety tests and let their boss drive home, a decision that has thrown a spotlight on what happens when one officer confronts another on patrol. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)

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CHICAGO (AP) — A female Chicago police officer who was reportedly seen on video drinking with and kissing the now-fired police superintendent the night he was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV has been accused of tampering with a cellphone investigators wanted to examine, a police department spokesman said Friday.

Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said officials noticed that the phone was damaged when the woman left then-Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s security detail to join the evidence and recovered property unit, three days after the incident.

According to the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the allegations about the phone, a sergeant in the unit that the officer was joining noticed that the SIM card was missing and filed a formal complaint against the officer.

The Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, citing sources the papers didn’t identify, said video shows Johnson with a woman who is not his wife the night of Oct. 16 at a popular bar and restaurant in the Chicago Board of Trade Building.

Guglielmi declined to discuss why the woman was transferred but said turning over phones and other equipment is routine when officers move from one unit to another. He said the phone had been “noticeably damaged and the SIM card was missing or damaged.”

He said the inspector general’s office became aware of the problems with the phone when it contacted the police department to ask for it as part of its investigation. He also said that as of Friday, the office has not requested that any member of the department be disciplined.

Guglielmi said the woman, who is on medical leave for injuries unrelated to the incident, is at the center of the investigation of the incident that prompted Mayor Lori Lightfoot to fire Johnson on Monday.She said that after reviewing information, including video-recorded evidence, that she concluded Johnson had lied to her when the two discussed the incident. Johnson, in a statement issued the next day, said he did not ‘’intentionally mislead or deceive” anyone.

Johnson had said after the incident that as he was driving home after having dinner with friends he felt lightheaded and fell asleep after he pulled over. In a statement issued later that day, Guglielmi said that Johnson showed no signs of impairment when they responded to a 911 call about Johnson and allowed him to drive home.

Johnson, who in 2017 underwent kidney transplant surgery, blamed what had happened on a recent change in his blood pressure medication but a short time later, Lightfoot said that the superintendent had acknowledged to her that he had “couple of drinks with dinner.”

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