Chief Epperson Under Fire for Role in Incident

Chief Epperson Under Fire for Role in Incident

Reports indicate Chief may have interfered with officers investigating call involving NAACP President Lloyd Johnston. Johnston says Chief did not.
EDITOR'S NOTE:  In a previous version, 'Eyewitness News' quoted Lt. Pay Hoey as confirming a police investigation into Chief Epperson.  Hoey says he can confirm there is an investigation, but not that Chief Epperson is the target.

ROCKFORD -- The man at the center of an internal investigation of an incident involving Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson speaks out exclusively to Eyewitness News.  NAACP President Lloyd Johnston tells us about an incident at his home involving police where the chief became involved, and some believe may have acted improperly.

It happened the night of October 30th when Rockford Police showed up at Johnston's door.  They were instructed to complete a welfare check on his son after his ex-wife, who lives in New York, reported that he and the son may have gotten into a fight.  What happened next is unclear.
According to police reports obtained by 'Rockford Register-Star,' Johnston would not let them into the home, and that's when things quickly escalated.

Johnston tells 'Eyewitness News,' "I said to the officer, 'well I'm not going to let you in,' and then he becomes irate. And I ask does he have a warrant, and he says no we don't need a warrant."

Johnston says the officers threatened to kick his doors in, and out of fear, he called the police chief on his cell phone with the speaker on so officers could hear the conversation.  "All i could picture was the door being kicked in, my house being trashed, my wife is there," Johnston says.

The conversation with Chief Epperson is what's now being called into question.   In the RRStar report, officers say Epperson told Johnston the officers were not allowed to enter the home and they should leave.  Johnston says Epperson did not instruct the officers to do anything, but instead told him to wait for superiors to arrive.  "the Chief says okay, don't let them in, I'm sending a supervisor.  At that point officer Boone screams out, 'We already called one.'"

Once the Supervisor arrived Johnston says he was briefed on the situation, and his son talked to police without incident.  He believes the investigation into whether the Chief may have obstructed justice while on the phone is simply a misguided dispute beween the union and administration.  "I'm kind of caught in a crossfire between those two entities and it's a sad," says Johnston.  "It's a sad commentary on what we as a citizen of Rockford have to deal with."

There was no fight between Johnston and his son.  Johnston says the initial police call was a false report.
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