September 24, 2020

Anti-Trump Chicago police chief fired for ‘ethical lapses’ weeks before retirement

Chicago’s anti-Trump chief of police was fired on Monday — by the city’s anti-Trump mayor.

Superintendent Eddie Johnson was slated to retire in just a few weeks when mayor Lori Lightfoot canned him over “ethical lapses” relating to an October incident, the Washington Examiner reported. Lightfoot said that Johnson lied about the night he was found asleep behind the wheel of his car after having some drinks.

Johnson feuded with President Donald Trump over the violent crime in the city, which Trump cited as proof that Chicago’s strict gun control laws don’t work.

Chicago police chief fired

The firing comes weeks before Johnson was set to retire at the end of the year. Johnson announced his retirement at a press conference with Lightfoot in November, where the like-minded officials — both supported police reforms to curb gun violence in the city — appeared to be on the same page, NPR notes.

The announcement came shortly after an October incident in which Johnson was found slumped over the steering wheel at a stop sign. Johnson had said he had forgotten to take his blood pressure medication and admitted to Johnson that he had “a couple of drinks with dinner,” NBC reported.

But in an abrupt reversal Monday, Lightfoot said that the findings of an ongoing investigation led her to conclude that Johnson told a series of “intolerable” lies to her and to the public, and that she would have fired him sooner if she had known. The mayor said that she reviewed video evidence and an inspector general’s report, but would not disclose anything further out of respect for Johnson’s wife and kids.

“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 having the privilege of leading the Chicago Police Department,” the mayor said.

Feuded with Trump

Johnson’s replacement will be Charlie Beck, a former Los Angeles police chief. A 30-year veteran of the Second City’s police force, Johnson was appointed by anti-Trump former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Lightfoot’s predecessor.

Before his ouster, Johnson sought unsuccessfully to curb gun violence in the city alongside Mayor Lightfoot, who rose to the office in the spring by promising to reduce the murder rate. The city’s intractable gun violence problem brought Johnson and President Trump to rhetorical blows last month after Johnson refused to attend a police leaders’ conference because Trump, who has routinely criticized Chicago’s Democrat leaders, was speaking there.

Trump responded by attacking Johnson’s leadership and claimed that Chicago was a more dangerous place to live than Afghanistan.

“Since Eddie Johnson has been police chief, more than 1,500 people have been murdered in Chicago, and 13,067 people have been shot,” Trump said. “It is embarrassing to us as a nation. All over the world, they’re talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison.”

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