CHICAGO - Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was drinking before driving when he was found asleep in his official police vehicle a few blocks from his home early Thursday morning, according to a report.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Johnson told her he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” the night before he was found asleep in his vehicle.
Chicago's top cop said Thursday his failure to take the proper blood pressure medication led to him falling asleep in his vehicle after he felt light-headed and pulled over while driving home from a late dinner Wednesday night.
Johnson ordered an internal investigation into the incident, saying he wants to assure the public that he's not trying to hide anything about his actions or the actions of the officers who responded to a 911 call from a passerby reporting that someone was asleep in a vehicle at a stop sign.
Mayor Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times that she agreed with Johnson's decision to request an internal affairs investigation of the Thursday incident to assure the public he's not trying to hide anything about his actions.
"It was the right thing to call for an investigation...," Lightfoot told the paper. "We'll see how that plays itself out."
After the newspaper's report, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement that, "While we have no indication of impropriety at this time, this question can only be answered by the internal affairs investigation."
Guglielmi had said Thursday that "there were no charges of intoxication, no information of intoxication as far as I know."
The responding officers found Johnson slumped over but allowed him to drive home and did not administer a breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test. Johnson said officers do such tests only when a motorist appears impaired or officers smell alcohol or cannabis.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson attends a police academy graduation and promotion ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on June 15, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In her comments, Lightfoot said that Johnson told her about how he had just changed medication, and said she has "no reason to doubt" his account of what happened.
"We know he's had some medical issues," she told the Sun-Times. "he's on the other side of a kidney (transplant) operation, which is obviously very, very serious. There have been some issues with high blood pressure, and so forth."
She also said that she knows from dealing with her parents that certain medications have side effects. "So I take him at his word."
She also did not condemn Johnson for having some drinks with dinner. "He's a grown man," she said. "He had a couple of drinks with dinner."
It's the latest health scare for Johnson, who was diagnosed decades ago with a kidney condition that ultimately led to a transplant -- with his son as the donor -- two years ago. Earlier this year he was hospitalized for a blood clot.
Johnson was off-duty and driving home from a restaurant Wednesday night when he says he pulled over his black, unmarked police SUV and fell asleep. Johnson said he has a driver but that he elected to drive himself home from, in part because he wanted to let his driver go home to be with his family.
In explaining what happened, Johnson alluded to a news conference in early 2017 with then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, when Johnson was helped to a seat after he wobbled and appeared unsteady.
"It's just ... your body kind of gives you a warning with the high blood pressure thing that you may pass out," he told reporters Thursday night.
He said the medical episode was the result of not following his doctor's orders.
"When he adjusted my medication, I took the old medication for high blood pressure, but I failed to put the new medication in," he said.
The investigation into Johnson will be handled by the public integrity unit within the department's internal affairs division, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Friday. That unit is comprised of officers who are detailed to the FBI and work out of the FBI's Chicago office.
"If they have any sense that there was any impropriety, they would refer the case to outside investigative agencies," Guglielmi added.
Guglielmi said there was no indication that alcohol played a role in the incident. However, he said he is prohibited from asking Johnson whether he had been drinking that night because of the ongoing internal affairs investigation.
Johnson, who has been trying to restore public confidence in the department shattered by the release 2015 release of the now infamous dashcam video of the fatal 2014 police shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald, said he wanted to take steps that would assure the public that his account was accurate.