Sgt. Steven Lesner — who pleaded guilty Friday to several misconduct charges — told a Chicago Police Board hearing officer that he was in the bathroom urinating and washing his hands when he heard the gunshot.
Lesner emerged to find Catherine Weiland, 47, dead on her loveseat.
"I realized she wasn't moving," Lesner testified. "She looked DOA ... I saw blood dripping out of her ear. I called 911 immediately."
Police and paramedics who responded to the Northwest Side home that night, in February 2009, found his 9mm semiautomatic pistol on her lap.
Lesner testified the gun had been strapped to his ankle, but he took the holster off and placed it on the floor while they were drinking and on the couch together.
"It was a helluva night," he said.
Lesner was married at the time but is divorced now. He denied that he had sex with Weiland.
According to investigative reports, a relative of Weiland's told police she was alcoholic, bipolar and off her medications.
Lesner on Friday pleaded guilty to bringing discredit to the department, leaving his weapon unattended and buying alcohol while on duty.
"I feel terrible. ... I feel terrible that a human life has ended," he testified. "I feel sorry for what I've caused the Weiland family."
Lesner, a 20-year veteran of the department who's been on restricted duty since November, faces possible suspension or firing. A decision isn't expected until July.
The Internal Affairs Division has been investigating Weiland’s death for years.
In 2009, the Cook County medical examiner’s office determined that a bullet from Lesner’s gun was fired into Weiland's right temple, killing her. But gunshot residue was only found her her left hand, and Lesner had washed his hands before he was tested.
Last August, the Chicago Sun-Times began a series of reports on the shooting.
The scope of the Sun-Times coverage can be read here:
- Four years later, officer still under investigation
- Catherine Weiland died inside her childhood home
- CPD’s responses to questions regarding the death of Catherine Weiland
- Chicago cop washed hands before tests in death involving his gun
- Chicago police sergeant agrees to 60-day suspension
- Police board rejects deal to suspend Chicago cop 60 days in woman’s death