Chicago Mayor Fires Police Chief Weeks Before Retirement

CHICAGO (CN) – Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was fired Monday morning, just weeks after announcing his retirement at the end of the year, over what the mayor called lies about falling asleep in his car.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks on Oct. 28, 2019.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a press conference that Johnson lied to her and the public about an October incident in which he was found sleeping in his car.

Johnson, 60, said that he became dizzy and pulled over before he was found by a police officer, later admitting to the mayor he had a couple of drinks that night.

But Lightfoot said Monday that she had received a report from Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General that found otherwise.

While she would not say exactly what the investigation revealed, the mayor said Johnson’s actions were “intolerable for any leader in a position of trust, especially the Chicago Police Department.”

“Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident,” she said in a statement.

“Mr. Johnson failed the hardworking people of the CPD,” Lightfoot added, backtracking on her praise for Johnson’s accomplishments during his three years as top cop a few weeks ago when he announced his retirement.

The mayor said the moment “must be a turning point,” adding that in the past Johnson would have been allowed to quietly retire.

“There must be no mistake about the message I’m sending today,” she said Monday. “This department has to be about creating a culture of integrity and accountability.”

Johnson, who served on the force since 1988, has battled health problems in recent years and said he was retiring at the end of the year to spend more time with his family.

Lightfoot said Monday that her chosen interim superintendent, retired Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, will be on a plane to Chicago on Tuesday.

“To achieve the reform and accountability in the department that we know is urgently needed, we require a leader whose actions reflect the integrity and legitimacy of what it means to be a Chicago police officer,” the mayor said. “I am confident that incoming Interim Superintendent Beck is such a leader, and that both he and the eventual permanent superintendent will serve with honor.”

The Chicago Police Board will eventually choose the new permanent superintendent.

A spokesperson for CPD said the department was not commenting on the firing announcement at this time.

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