Chicago, IL – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a press conference on Monday morning to announce she had fired Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, effective immediately, because of his conduct the night he was found slumped over in his vehicle, his effort to mislead the public, and his effort to mislead the mayor.
Lightfoot told reporters that she had reviewed the Inspector General’s report about the night Superintendent Johnson claimed he had felt woozy due to a medication change and so had pulled over to sleep on the side of the road.
“There are three reasons for this decision,” the mayor began.
“First, the finding from the Inspector General’s report regarding Mr. Johnson, which I recently reviewed, makes clear that Eddie Johnson engaged in conduct that is not only unbecoming but demonstrated a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision-making that is inconsistent with having the privilege of leading the Chicago Police Department,” the mayor said.
“Second, Johnson intentionally misled the public in a press conference he called on Oct. 17, 2019,” she continued, sounding angry. “He was not caught off-guard and he had plenty of time to choose his words. And the choice he made was to communicate a narrative replete with false statements, all seemingly intended to hide the true nature of his conduct the night before.”
“Finally, just like with the public, Eddie Johnson intentionally lied to me several times,” the mayor told reporters. “Even when I challenged him about the narrative that he shared with me, he maintained that he was telling the truth. I now know definitively that he was not.”
“Had I known these facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there,” Lightfoot said. “I certainly wouldn’t have participated in a celebratory press conference to announce his retirement.”
Superintendent Johnson announced his retirement on Nov. 7 and said at the time he would be staying at the helm of the Chicago Police Department until the end of the year.
He cited his reason for retirement as wanting to spend time with his family and Lightfoot joined him on stage with his family and said nice things about his reign as superintendent.
“The facts that I know now are fundamentally different from the facts that I knew then,” the mayor explained.
She said she met with Superintendent Johnson on Monday morning and “relieved him of his responsibilities as superintendent.”
The mayor refused to address rumors that Superintendent Johnson had been coming from someplace other than a police-related dinner the night of the incident and had lied to cover up his activities.
Lightfoot said that the Inspector General’s investigation into other people involved in the incident was ongoing, but said she wouldn’t release more information about the findings of the investigation out of respect for the former superintendent’s wife and children.
“The old Chicago way must give way to the new reality,” the mayor said. “Ethical leadership, integrity, accountability, legitimacy, and yes, honesty must be the hallmarks of city government.”
Lightfoot said Chicago police officers needed a leader that reflected those characteristics.
She said she had reviewed the Inspector General’s report and videotaped evidence and that there was no grey area in her decision to terminate Superintendent Johnson immediately, but she wouldn’t reveal what exactly he had misled her about.
“Well, he lies a lot,” the mayor said. “He told me something that happened that night that turned out to be fundamentally different from what he portrayed to me and what he portrayed to the public.”
She said she didn’t want to do or say anything that could influence or taint the inspector general’s investigation, but disputed the notion that there is a broad-based problem in the police force.
Lightfoot said she refused to paint the police department with a broad brush and pointed the finger directly at her newly-fired police superintendent.
“We’re here today because of the actions of one man,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said that the superintendent’s replacement, former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, was on an airplane en route to Chicago to take up leadership of the police department.