Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired embattled Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson this morning announcing that the termination is effective immediately. The termination comes just weeks before Johnson was scheduled to retire.
Johnson who has been under administrative scrutiny may have provided the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” when he was discovered asleep in a vehicle under suspicious circumstances. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said an investigation into the incident concluded that Johnson’s “actions … are intolerable for any leader.”
Johnson was spotted slumped over in a vehicle near 34th and Aberdeen streets at a stop sign in October. He said he had neglected to take a prescribed medication. But later, he admitted he had “a couple of drinks” at dinner.
“Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of October 17,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Had I known all the facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there.”
Lightfoot also said there is additional information about Johnson’s conduct that she is not revealing “out of deference to his wife and children.”
Here is Lightfoot’s full statement on Johnson’s dismissal:
“Today, I am announcing that I have terminated Eddie Johnson’s employment with the City of Chicago, effective immediately. Upon a thorough review of the materials of the Inspector General’s ongoing investigation, it has become clear that Mr. Johnson engaged in a series of ethical lapses that are intolerable. Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of October 17. Had I known all the facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there.
“Perhaps worst of all, Mr. Johnson has misled the people of Chicago. The 13,400 sworn and civilian members of the Chicago Police Department who work hard every day deserve a leader who they can believe in. In public life, we must be accountable for our actions and strive to do better every day. And to achieve the reform and accountability in the department that we know is urgently needed, we require a leader whose actions reflect the integrity and legitimacy of what it means to be a Chicago Police Officer. I am confident that incoming Interim Superintendent Beck is such a leader, and that both he and the eventual permanent superintendent will serve with honor.”
Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General confirmed its probe of Johnson’s incident is not yet complete. It’s unclear whether the mayor was given a heads-up on early findings leading to his firing.
Johnson announced in November that he would retire at the end of the year after more than 30 years with the department.
Interim CPD Superintendent Charlie Beck, who was appointed by Lightfoot last month, is reportedly on his way to Chicago.
Johnson, a native Chicagoan, held just about every rank on the police force. He was named superintendent in 2016 by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had fired Superintendent Garry McCarthy after the release of the now-infamous video of Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting Laquan McDonald and was scrambling to restore confidence in both himself and the department.
Former Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy spoke with WGN Monday after the mayor broke the news, and said he feels it’s a very positive move.
“Personally I like Eddie Johnson, I’ve promoted him a couple of times. But you can’t have two sets of standards. If we hold police officers to something called “you lie, you die,” you have to hold the leadership to those same issues,” McCarthy said.