Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot abruptly terminated Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson this morning (12/2/19). This decision comes just over a month after Johnson was found slumped over asleep in his vehicle in October. Both Johnson and the Mayor did not provide much about the meeting that ended in the superintendent’s firing. It was a brief meeting and Johnson did not speak to anyone afterwards.
Mayor Lightfoot however did speak to the reason for the firing. It seems that the investigation into Johnson’s being asleep behind the wheel of his car uncovered some very troubling information. Though exactly what that information is has not been disclosed. She said the findings “make it 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 (…) leading the Chicago Police Department.” Lightfoot’s official statement is that the termination is a result of the superintendent “lying to me and lying to the public.
The Mayor greatly emphasized her disappointment in the lack of truthfulness on Johnson’s part. This is likely due in no small part to the fact that Lightfoot held a news conference after Johnson was found asleep in his car. She defended him and the way the department handled the situation at the time. It was claimed that Johnson’s issue was not due to alcohol, but because of a change in medicine used to treat his diabetes. The superintendent has a history of this disease and even underwent a kidney transplant with his son as the donor.
In response to this newfound information as it relates to her previous defense, the Mayor stated, “Had I known these facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as Superintendent then and there. I certainly would not have participated in a celebratory press conference to announce his retirement. Mr. Johnson failed the hard working members of the Chicago Police Department. He intentionally misled the people of Chicago and he intentionally misled me. None of that is acceptable.”
She also stated that the facts as she knows them now are “fundamentally different than the facts I knew then,” and that “…what he portrayed to me — what he portrayed to the public — was fundamentally different than what the facts show.” Mayor Lightfoot was pressed on being more specific on what new information was discovered, but she declined strongly. The decision, she says, is based on her carefulness to not drag the superintendent’s wife and children into the affair, twice stating them as the cause for being tight-lipped. She also cited the ongoing investigation into the superintendent’s actions, as well as the actions of others within the department.