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CPD, inspector general investigating possible evidence tampering by cop who was out with Eddie Johnson

The officer was transferred from the superintendent’s office three days after Johnson was found asleep in his SUV near his home in Bridgeport.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson
Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson
Sun-Times file photo

The Chicago police officer who was out with former Supt. Eddie Johnson on the night he was found asleep in his vehicle is being investigated by both the CPD and the office of the inspector general for potential evidence tampering.

The female officer was assigned to Johnson’s security detail in 2016, according to CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. On Oct. 20 — three days after Johnson was found in his vehicle near his home in Bridgeport — the officer was transferred from the superintendent’s office to the CPD’s Central District, based in the South Loop.

As part of the transfer, Guglielmi said, the officer was required to turn in her department-issued cell phone. When the phone was turned in, another CPD officer noticed damage to the SIM card, which stores a phone’s data.

An internal investigation was opened by the CPD “to find the cause of the damage,” and it remains ongoing, Guglielmi said.

“During the OIG investigation, they must’ve requested the phone. When it was turned over, they also noticed it was damaged,” he added.

Guglielmi stressed the officer’s move to the Central District was “not a disciplinary transfer” and said the office of the chief of patrol, Fred Waller, “approved the transfer order for manpower needs.”

The officer is now assigned to the department’s evidence and recovered property section.

The intersection of 34th Place and Aberdeen Street, where Eddie Johnson was found sleeping inside a running car, early on the morning of Oct. 17. Sam Charles/Sun-Times

The officer has not returned messages from the Sun-Times.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday the OIG was investigating several CPD employees for allegedly covering up Johnson’s actions on the night he was found asleep in his vehicle.

The alleged cover-up took place “that night and the next day” and could end up being “even worse than” the incident itself, said a source familiar with Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s ongoing investigation.

Johnson and the officer visited at least two downtown establishments during the evening hours of Oct. 16 — Ceres Café near the Board of Trade and Volare, an Italian restaurant in Streeterville, sources told the Sun-Times.

Ceres has long been known for its generous pours of booze. Sources said Johnson had drinks there over three hours. Surveillance video of their time there showed Johnson and the officer kissing repeatedly.

The female officer filed for divorce from her husband last year, but the case was thrown out earlier this week after the two missed several court appearances. Johnson is married to CPD Lt. Nakia Fenner.

The woman has been interviewed by the inspector general’s office. Sources said she acknowledged drinking with Johnson for hours before Johnson was found in his SUV. But she also said they were only friends. The woman also told investigators both she and Johnson have troubled marriages and that they frequently talk to each other.

Johnson eventually dropped off the officer at CPD headquarters before he tried to drive himself home.

Both police and Chicago Fire Department personnel responded to a 911 call of a parked vehicle near 34th Place and Aberdeen Street around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 17. The Chevrolet Tahoe had the engine running with Johnson fast asleep inside for quite a while before police and the fire department responded, sources said.

Bodycam and dashcam video of the police response show officers engaging in conversation with Johnson but only briefly after the superintendent displays his badge, sources said.

Responding officers essentially asked the top cop, “Are you OK?” When Johnson replied, “I’m OK,” the officers can be heard telling him to have a good night.

Johnson was then allowed to drive home without a sobriety test that would normally be required for other motorists found in a similar situation.

Johnson initially blamed a change in his blood pressure medication and his failure to fill the replacement prescription.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired Johnson Monday, accusing him of “lying” about the circumstances on the night in question.

In a statement earlier this week, Johnson said he did not “intentionally mislead or deceive the mayor or the people” of Chicago.

Contributing: Fran Spielman, Mitchell Armentrout, Lauren FitzPatrick