A top Chicago police officer was the center of a police chase in Indiana that topped speeds of 110 mph, audio recordings obtained by NBC 5 Investigates revealed.
The officer involved, identified as Commander Edward Wodnicki, has been reassigned as an investigation into what happened is underway, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department confirmed.
"Based on information received from the Indiana State Police regarding Commander Wodnicki, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has ordered an internal investigation into the entirety of this traffic stop,” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. “The Commander will be reassigned to CPD's Bureau of Technical Services pending the outcome of this investigation."
Audio recordings from the June chase show an Indiana State Police trooper attempted to pull Wodnicki over for speeding on Interstate 94 near Porter, Indiana.
The vehicle had lights and sirens but was unmarked and did not belong to an Indiana officer, the trooper indicated.
“I’m trying to catch up to a black vehicle, that’s running, uh, firefighter blue and white lights, 26 westbound,” the trooper says in the audio. “I contacted Porter County – they have no hot calls right now in their county for someone to be running with those lights on.”
Wodnicki, a veteran police commander at Chicago’s Area Central and the detective who took charge of the Jussie Smollett investigation this past winter – was the driver of the vehicle. But he didn’t stop.
“And I got a pace on him at 114 miles per hour at one point,” the trooper says in the audio.
The chase continues as another trooper radios in a few miles ahead.
“Be prepared to uh, set up spike strips,” one trooper says. “While we’re in the left lane at 88 miles an hour, vehicle’s not slowing down.”
Police pursued the vehicle for more than four minutes and determined the license plate registered to the City of Chicago.
“It’s a white male driver and he is not stopping,” the trooper says in the audio. “He’s on his cell phone. I don’t know why he would be running blue lights in Indiana.”
At one point, the trooper indicated Wodnicki waved at him from the vehicle, but still did not stop.
Eventually, officer put spikes in the road ahead and Wodnicki stopped before his car hit the spike strips. That’s when the pursuing troopers learned Wodnicki was a Chicago officer.
“This gentleman says he was going to his office in Chicago,” one trooper says in the audio.
Police held Wodnicki for nearly 45 minutes before letting him go. They issued him a speeding ticket and later prepared a report, which was obtained by NBC 5 Investigates, describing the Chicago police commander as “resisting law enforcement.”