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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has fired police Superintendent Eddie Johnson just weeks before he was set to retire, and isn’t mincing any words about why she believes he needed to be let go, effective immediately.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Lightfoot accused Johnson of engaging in a series of actions that were “intolerable.” She then went on to explain that it was her belief that he had intentionally misled the public, and also behaved in a manner that was unethical in relation to the evening where he was found asleep in his car after drinking.
“Eddie Johnson intentionally lied to me,” the mayor said Monday, during a morning news conference.
Lightfoot wasted no time in replacing Johnson, informing the press that former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, would take over as interim superintendent and was already on a flights headed to Chicago that was expected to arrive in the afternoon.
Johnson’s final fall from grace began around 12:30 a.m. one evening in October, when officers responding to a 911 call stating that the superintendent had been found asleep in his parked car near his home.
At the time, Johnson told the press that he had failed to take medication he’d been prescribed, which resulted in him feeling groggy after a long day at work. He then went on to say that he went out to dinner with friends that night despite his fatigue and fell ill as he drove home from the meal.
“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.
He also defended his officers’ decision not to test for whether he had been drinking, stating, “Someone asleep in a car doesn’t mean they’re impaired.”
Following the incident, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, released a statement saying alcohol did not play a role in what transpired that evening.
However, Johnson later admitted to Lightfoot that he had “a couple of drinks” with dinner, and the mayor says had she known all of the facts, she would not have chosen to participate in the celebratory press conference where Johnson announced his retirement.
To repair that misstep she has chosen to take a stance and fire Johnson as a sign to the community that, “The old Chicago way must give way to new way” of ethical leadership, where not even supervisors in the police department get a free pass.
“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,” she wrote in a message sent to Chicago police officers. “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.”