Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired police Superintendent Eddie Johnson this Monday after she says he intentionally mislead her and the public about his conduct when he was found asleep in his running vehicle at a stop sign back in October.
“This moment needs to be a turning point for the Chicago Police Department and the way things are done in this city,” said Lightfoot, emphasizing that a “culture change” must take place.
The shocking announcement came just a few weeks after Lightfoot held a press conference to announce Johnson’s upcoming retirement. Johnson was to be retiring by year’s end after about 3 and a half years as Superintendent.
Former Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, previously named Johnson’s interim successor, took control of the department after flying into Chicago on Monday afternoon. He and the mayor separately met with the department’s top brass.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the city inspector general’s office obtained a video showing Johnson drinking with a woman for a few hours on the evening of Oct 16 at the Ceres Cafe, a restaurant and bar at the Chicago Board of Trade building.
Later that night, around 12:30 a.m., officers responding to a 911 call near Johnson’s home in Bridgeport found Johnson asleep in his police-issued SUV at a stop sign. Johnson rolled down the window on his police vehicle partway, flashed his superintendent’s badge and drove off, sources said.
Lightfoot told reporters on Monday that after reviewing the inspector general’s report as well as the videotaped evidence she had no choice but to fire Johnson.
“I saw things that were inconsistent with what Mr. Johnson had told me personally and what he revealed to members of the public,” she said.
With the inspector general’s report still not public, Lightfoot declined to be more specific about what the videotaped evidence showed but hinted that it would be hurtful to Johnson’s family.
“While at some point the IG’s report may become public and those details may be revealed, I don’t feel like it’s appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson’s wife or children to do so at this time,” she said.
The mayor said she personally delivered the news Monday morning to Johnson, giving three reasons for his termination:
— That he “engaged in conduct that is not only unbecoming but demonstrated a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision-making” in the October incident.
— That the superintendent called a news conference later the day of the incident in which he communicated “a narrative replete with false statements, all seemingly intended to hide the true nature of his conduct from the evening before.”
— That Johnson intentionally lied to the mayor several times, “even when I challenged him about the narrative that he shared with me.”
Johnson, 59, was a 31-year department veteran and was paid about $260,000 a year.