The police superintendent fired by Chicago’s mayor this week for committing a “series of ethical lapses” related to an October incident in which he was found asleep in his car has now officially retired from the department – and is off its payroll.
Eddie Johnson, who was making $260,044-a-year before his removal Monday, left the Chicago Police Department Wednesday as a lieutenant – his rank prior to becoming a member of its command staff, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“We have been informed that effective today, Mr. Johnson retired from his career service rank and is no longer employed by the Chicago Police Department,” the mayor’s office said in a statement obtained by the newspaper.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Johnson’s firing Monday and demoted him to the lieutenant rank, yet he remained on the department’s payroll for two days afterward, the Tribune added
Despite his firing, Johnson will still be allowed to earn his pension, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Johnson’s departure from the Chicago Police following 31 years of service – three of which he spent leading the department – comes as several of its employees reportedly are being investigated for allegedly helping him cover up the Oct. 17 incident.
Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday that the alleged cover-up – which happened “that night and the next day” -- might end up being “even worse than” the incident itself and is being reviewed by the inspector general’s office. Johnson was fired Monday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot for committing, in her words, a “series of ethical lapses.”
Prior to his termination, Johnson had publicly blamed an issue with his medication for the Oct. 17 incident, saying he felt lightheaded while driving home and pulled over and fell asleep. He also told Lightfoot he’d had “a couple of drinks with dinner” earlier that night.
But details are emerging this week alleging much more actually happened.
The Sun-Times, after reporting that Johnson was seen drinking for hours with a female member of his security detail at a downtown restaurant before the incident, cited sources as saying that he and the woman were pictured on restaurant video kissing repeatedly as well.
She since has been reassigned to another position within the Chicago Police Department and records showed she filed for divorce from her husband last year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Sources told the newspaper the woman admitted to drinking with Johnson. Later that night, Johnson drove her in his police SUV back to headquarters before dropping her off and attempting to head home, they added.
It was during that trip Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel, the sources said.
Sources cited by the Sun-Times reported that Johnson flashed his badge to officers who responded to a 911 call of a parked vehicle. They asked him if he was OK, the newspaper added, to which Johnson replied that he was, before being allowed to drive home without taking a sobriety test.
Lightfoot said Monday while announcing Johnson’s firing that he “was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of October 17.”
“Had I known all the facts at the time, I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there,” she added.
Johnson denied that claim, saying in his own statement that "One thing I want everyone to know is this: I did not intentionally mislead or deceive the Mayor or the people of Chicago.”
Observers are now hoping that Johnson's firing will compel Lightfoot to enact further changes within the Chicago Police Department.
Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who now is a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told NBC News that the termination "is clearly ratcheting up the mayor's effort to fix the police department and to send a clear message to all city employees that more lying [and] corruption is grounds for firing."
"It simply won't be tolerated," he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.