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Mayor Lightfoot Fires Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson Ahead of Retirement Over “Ethical Lapses”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot terminated Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Monday, citing “ethical lapses” and “false statements” Chicago’s top cop made surrounding an October incident where Johnson was found asleep in a squad car around 12:30am.

Former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson at a press conference in 2017. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

“It has become clear that Mr Johnson engaged in a series of actions that are intolerable for any leader in a position of trust, particularly the head of the Chicago Police Department,” Lightfoot told reporters in a Monday morning press conference.

After the incident, Johnson told reporters he was fatigued from a long day, failed to take prescription medicine, and became ill while driving home from a late dinner while off-duty. At first, Johnson and department officials said that alcohol had not played a role in the incident, but later Johnson admitted to having “a couple of drinks with dinner” to Lightfoot. Johnson announced his retirement three weeks after the incident alongside Lightfoot, but was to finish the rest of the year.

“This job has taken its toll — taken a toll on my health, my family, my friends,” Johnson said at the time. “But my integrity has remained intact.”

Lightfoot said that upon a review of materials from an ongoing investigation from the Inspector General’s office that Johnson would be terminated effective immediately. “Circumstances demanded these actions,” she said.

Lightfoot said there were three reasons for terminating Johnson. According to the mayor, Johnson was “engaged in conduct that is not only unbecoming but demonstrated a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision making inconsistent with having the privilege of leading the Chicago Police Department.” Additionally, she said Johnson “intentionally mislead the public” at the October press conference he called after the incident. “The choice he made was to communicate a narrative replete with false statements all seemingly intended to hide the true nature of his conduct from the night before,” she said. Finally, Lightfoot said that Johnson “intentionally lied to me.”

Lightfoot also said that had she known the facts at the time, she would not have participated at the press conference announcing his retirement and would’ve “relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there.”

“Mr Johnson failed the hard working members of the department, intentionally misled the people of Chicago, and intentionally misled me,” Lightfoot said. “None of that is acceptable.”

Former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, who was to take over as interim police chief after Johnson’s planned retirement, will take over immediately. Lightfoot said she was confident that Beck and the eventual permanent superintendent “will serve with honor.”

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