Chicago’s Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was fired today, just weeks before he was set to retire.
Johnson’s unexpected dismissal as chief of police came after what Mayor Lori Lightfoot called a “series of ethical lapses.” She suggested he was fired because of personal failures in the aftermath of events following an October 17th incident where Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel of his car.
On Monday, the mayor noted that his statement to investigators was part of the reason for his termination from the force.
“How can I explain it? It’s just your body kind of gives you a warning with the high blood pressure thing that you may pass out, so I pulled over, stopped and I just rested myself until that feeling passed,” he said after the incident, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In October, Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times that Johnson had “a couple of drinks with dinner” before driving home and slumping over in his vehicle. The mayor also said he was “changing medication.” At the time, Lightfoot also noted that she would await the outcome of an internal investigation looking into the matter before deciding what to do next.
On Monday, Lightfoot wrote in a statement, “Upon a thorough review of the materials of the Inspector General’s ongoing investigation, it has become clear that Mr. Johnson engaged in a series of ethical lapses that are intolerable.”
In a press conference after the statement’s release, the mayor elaborated on what forced the firing.
“Eddie Johnson intentionally lied to me several times even when I challenged him about the narrative that he shared with me,” she said.
“He maintained that he was telling the truth. I now know definitively that he was not.”
Johnson had announced he would retire at the end of this month.
“This job has taken its toll — taken a toll on my health, my family, my friends,” Johnson said at a press conference, according to NBC News.
“But my integrity has remained intact.”
At Monday’s press conference, Mayor Lightfoot, said Johnson had misled Chicago residents. She went on to state that he let down his fellow officers and the department staff, which he lead.
“A lie is a lie,” Lightfoot said. “He told me something that happened that night that turned out to be fundamentally different than what he portrayed to me and what he portrayed to the members of the public.”
It’s expected former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck will now take the reigns of the Chicago Police. Lightfoot named him interim superintendent after Johnson announced his retirement. The mayor noted on Monday that Beck was on a flight to Chicago and would immediately take over.
Media outlets in Chicago could not immediately reach Johnson for comment after his dismissal.
Johnson was a relatively obscure chief of patrol in April 2016 when he was named to lead the Chicago police force by former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. The Chicago Tribune reported that he had bypassed three finalists chosen by the city’s police board.
Lightfoot suggested that an inspector general’s report looking into the events of the night Johnson was found behind the wheel will not help Johnson. It has not been released to the public, but Lightfoot hinted at video evidence that would be hurtful to Johnson and his family.