On Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made a stunning announcement, revealing that Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had served his last day as the city’s top cop, the Chicago Tribune reports. Lightfoot shared that she made Johnson aware of her decision ahead of her announcement.
Johnson was expected to retire in a few weeks after holding the position for the last three and a half years. But his reputation faced intense speculation after he was discovered slumped over and asleep in the front seat of his car at a stop sign near his home, while the vehicle’s engine was running.
“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,” she said during Monday’s press conference. “Mr. Johnson failed the hardworking members of the Chicago Police Department, he intentionally misled the people of Chicago and he intentionally misled me. None of that is acceptable.”
“This moment needs to be a turning point for the Chicago Police Department and the way things are done in this city,” Lightfoot continued.
Mayor Lightfoot also announced Johnson would be swiftly replaced. Former Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, who was named as previously named Johnson’s interim successor, would be taking over Johnson’s post. At the time of Lightfoot’s press conference, Beck was on a flight from California to Illinois.
Lightfoot said she was lied to by Johnson regarding his conduct when he was discovered after a late night out on October 17. And after further reviewing the city inspector general’s report and videotaped evidence regarding the incident in question, Lightfoot said she had no choice but to take disciplinary action.
“I saw things that were inconsistent with what Mr. Johnson had told me personally and what he revealed to members of the public,” Lightfoot continued. Lightfoot declined to go into details on what the report uncovered because she felt it would not be “appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson’s wife or children to do so at this time.”
Johnson initially said he failed to take his prescribed blood pressure medication and felt fatigued during a dinner date with friends. A previous statement from the CPD denied any alcohol involvement, but Johnson later told Lightfoot that he had in fact drank during the dinner.
Johnson marks the second consecutive superintendent to be fired, and the fourth to exit in a storm of controversy, the Tribune reports. It also comes months after Johnson’s handling of Jussie Smollett’s arrest, where he publicly voiced that Smollett had misled the CPD also advocated for the subsequent re-investigation of actor’s case.
Johnson also was at the helm of the CPD during the investigation of the LaQuan McDonald shooting, which stoked the fire of city divisions regarding race, class and economics. These instances, along with the CPD’s storied history of state sanctioned violence against Black people and communities of color, has created a valid sense of mistrust among Chicago citizens.
“While I recognize this news comes as a surprise to most of you, this was a decision I felt was absolutely necessary to preserve the legitimacy and honor of the Chicago Police Department,” Lightfoot said in an email sent to members of the CPD.
“I deeply respect the work that each of you undertake every day and you deserve a superintendent who lives up to the ideals that I expect each of you to exemplify.”