CHICAGO (CBS) — Interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck stripped former Cmdr. Ed Wodnicki of his police powers Tuesday, in connection with a high-speed chase in Indiana last year.
The decision came after Beck was briefed on the preliminary findings of an internal investigation after Wodnicki was pulled over near Chesterton, Indiana in June.
Stripping an officer of his or her police powers is the most severe internal discipline the superintendent can take.
Sources say such an action is typically taken when false statements are made by an officer. In this case, sources said there were questions surrounding where Wodnicki was and why.
He originally told Chicago Police Command staff he was buying bullets in Indiana on his way back to Chicago to assist with an investigation, while he told Indiana State Police he was heading to a call.
Sources further said there are questions into the integrity of Wodnicki’s statements and inconsistencies in his story.
On June 12 of last year, Wodnicki caught the attention of an Indiana State Police trooper while driving on Interstate 94 through Chesterton in an unmarked police vehicle with his sirens and blue lights running.
Indiana state trooper’s attempted to pull Wodnicki over on I-94 westbound near mile marker 26 on just before 8 p.m. that night.
However, the veteran commander allegedly refused to stop and kept driving. ISP Troopers chasing Wodnicki clocked him driving over 100 mph.
Eventually, Wodnicki came to a stop just before running his Ford Fusion police vehicle over the stop strips.
According to ISP records, Wodnicki identified himself as a Chicago Police Officer and told the responding troopers that he was heading to his office in Chicago.
“Put your hands where I can see them! Right now,” a trooper can be heard saying on a surveillance tape. “Get out of the car. This is not an emergency vehicle.”
Wodnicki responds, “Oh please, come on guys. I’m a f****** policeman. I swear to God I thought you were giving me support.”
“A policeman where?” the trooper asks.
“Chicago,” Wodnicki responds.
“Is this Chicago?” the trooper replies.
“Sir, I am heading to a call,” Wodnicki can be heard saying.
Wodnicki said he thought the troopers giving chase were there to escort him back to the city. The veteran officer said he was rushing back to interview suspects already in custody.
What was the Chicago Police Department’s head of detectives doing in Indiana about 40 miles from Chicago anyway?
“I’ve been working all day,” Wodnicki can be heard saying. “I’m a f****** policeman. I don’t drink at all. I just had a f****** meeting.”
But Wodnicki initially told a different story to CPD command staff, saying he was buying ammunition across the border.
Wodnicki was eventually allowed to go on his way. He was issued a speeding ticket.
As troopers let Wodnicki go, the veteran commander did show remorse.
“You guys did the right thing,” he said. “Please accept my apology.”
On Monday, Wodnicki voluntarily demoted himself from the rank of commander to his previous title of lieutenant. The CPD did not ask him to do so.
But a day later, of course, Interim Supt. Beck made his decision to strip Wodnicki of his police powers altogether.
Wodnicki was still getting paid as of Tuesday night.