That's because they believed the officer didn't know the woman was a prostitute until after the incident.
An internal affairs investigation obtained through an open records request, however, shows the officer, Demetrius E. Dixon, did know about the prostitution and had failed a polygraph test before admitting it.
Now, Mayor Bryan Thompson says Johnson did not give him the correct facts before he spoke and said she is accountable for not doing so.
"In my mind right now, this is extremely serious," he said.
Johnson agreed the information she gave to Thompson and the city manager was incorrect.
"I made a mistake. It's no fault of theirs," she said. "I didn't have all the facts before me and I was bringing that information to the meeting from memory."
The City Commission has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday morning to discuss a personnel issue in executive session.
Last week both City Manager Roosevelt Harris and Thompson said the officer admitted to paying a woman $30 for sex but didn't know until afterward that she was a prostitute. Had Dixon not passed a polygraph test, he would have been terminated immediately, Thompson had said.
Dixon received 10 days unpaid suspension and was placed on probationary status.
But the internal affairs report paints a different picture.
The officer took two polygraph tests. The first was inconclusive and the second showed the officer lied about having sex. The officer then made this admission to the police investigator, according to the report:
"He told me that he had picked [the woman] up at the Citgo station ... The subject turned to sex and [she] told him she charged thirty dollars. He stated that until she mentioned money, he didn't really know she was a prostitute. He agreed to pay her the thirty dollars but told her that he didn't have the cash, but could stop at the ATM afterwards."
They then had intercourse, the report says.
The internal affairs investigation stems from a incident in September in which Glynn County police stopped a suspicious car. The county officers reported that the driver identified himself as a Brunswick police officer and that they knew the woman to be a prostitute. There was not enough evidence to charge either with a crime.
In response to an anonymous complaint, an internal affairs investigation was done beginning Dec. 30 after which Johnson disciplined Dixon.
Thompson said he had only glanced at the investigative report and that Johnson had told him the officer passed the polygraph.
Informed of the failed polygraph, Thompson reversed his support of the disciplinary response and said, "It appears I have been seriously misled by the chief of police..."
Asked whether the chief was answering from memory, Thompson said Johnson had been reading from and flipping through the files as she spoke.
"What I left with for sure, hands down, was the polygraph showed no deception," he said. "How would it explain otherwise the way she handled this young man's case?"
Speaking to the City Commission last week, Brunswick resident Sandy Dean cited Dixon's discipline as an example of Johnson's mismanagement. She criticized commissioners for not investigating problems at the police department more aggressively.
"I feel you have failed the community and me by your handling or not handling of the problem at the police department," Dean said.
On Monday, Thompson agreed he was accountable.
"I take full responsibility for not pushing as hard as I should have and for not questioning harder, staff that I trusted," he said.