Chicago’s top cop is out and his troubled reign has ended in shame after an October 2019 drinking and driving scandal. Now, various Chicago police employees are under investigation for allegedly assisting in a widespread cover-up of then-Supt. Eddie Johnson alleged DUI. When confronted about the incident by Mayor Lori Lightfoot she claimed he lied and in turn, she fired him just weeks before his retirement.
On October 16 into the early hours of Oct. 17, Johnson was discovered slumped over in his police SUV at around 12:30 a.m.near his home. He has earlier dismissed his driver and had tried to drive himself home.
Now Chicago’s Inspector General Joseph Ferguson is not only investigating Johnson, who earned $260,044 as superintendent, but others in the police force for potentially covering up the incident.
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“Rather than having ‘couple of drinks’ during a ‘dinner with friends,’ as Johnson told the mayor, sources said the now-former superintendent spent three hours drinking at Ceres Cafe — a restaurant known for pouring large drinks to patrons from the nearby Chicago Board of Trade — with a woman whom he had promoted to his security detail shortly after becoming the city’s top cop. Johnson and the woman, who has since been reassigned to another job in the police department, are seen on restaurant video kissing repeatedly,” The Chicago Sun-Times reported.
After leaving the cafe and sometime later in the night, Johnson decided to drive himself instead of allowing his driver to do so. He drove the SUV to police headquarters, where he dropped off his female companion. He next, tried to drive himself home but was unable to make it. He parked and fell asleep bed the wheel.
Police and the Chicago Fire Department responded to a 911 call of a parked vehicle and emergency personnel found Johnson’s SUV parked with the engine running. He was asleep inside.
“Bodycam and dashcam video of the police response show officers engaging in conversation with Johnson, but only briefly after the superintendent displays his badge, sources said,” The Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The officers on the scene asked Johnson, “Are you OK?” Johnson replied, “I’m OK” and the officers told him to have a good night as they left and allowed Johnson to drive home without a sobriety test. Considering the situation, a sobriety test would normally be required.
Initially, Johnson claimed it was a change in his blood pressure medication and his failure to fill the replacement prescription that caused him to appear intoxicated. This, Mayor Lightfoot, accused Johnson of “lying” to her when she questioned his version of events and that was when she took action against Johnson, who had 31 years with the department, 3½ of them as superintendent.
“I acknowledge that I made a poor decision and had a lapse of judgment on the night of Oct. 16. That was a mistake and I know that. However, I have no interest in fighting a battle for my reputation with those that want to question it now,” Johnson is quoted as admitting. “Reputations are not built in a day and not damaged in a day, either. They are the result of years of living. We reap what we sow in this world. I will simply rely on the reputation for integrity that I think I have earned during my long career with the faith that we should all be judged by the entirety of our lives and not on what happened on our worst days.”
Johnson’s tenure was troubled.
“Two and a half years into Johnson’s appointment, Chicago’s police department is far from reformed. Three separate lawsuits filed last year — one by a broad civil rights coalition, including the Chicago branches of Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and the Urban League, represented by civil rights attorneys Craig Futterman and Sheila Bedi; one from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and community groups such as the Community Renewal Society; and one from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office — all insisted that only court-overseen reforms will truly change the department,” The Intercept reported.