Menu Close

Johnson Out, Beck In as Chicago Police Superintendent

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Monday, citing “ethical lapses” that included telling lies about an incident in which Johnson was found asleep at the wheel of his car after having drinks, the Associated Press reports. Appointed after the police killing of teenager Laquan McDonald, Johnson was dismissed after the mayor reviewed an inspector general’s report and video evidence on the night in October when officers discovered him unconscious in his SUV. He initially blamed failure to take his blood pressure medication and said he had a few drinks with dinner. Officers did not conduct any sobriety tests and let their boss drive home. Johnson “engaged in a series of actions that are intolerable for any leader or position of trust, particularly the head of the Chicago Police Department,” the mayor said. Johnson’s conduct was “not only unbecoming but demonstrates a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision-making.”

Lightfoot said the top police officer in the nation’s third-largest city repeatedly lied about the events that unfolded the night of Oct. 16. “What he portrayed to me, what he portrayed to the public was fundamentally different than what the facts show,” she said. The underlying conduct “warranted this significant and serious action of relieving him of his role.” Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, was to take over immediately as interim superintendent. Johnson said that on the night of the incident he felt lightheaded while driving home, pulled over and fell asleep. Weeks later, he announced he would retire at year’s end. Johnson took over the department of 13,500 officers as the city grappled with a spike in already high violent crime. By the end of a year that saw thousands of shooting incidents, the number of dead totaled nearly 800, 300 more than the year before.