Chicago Police Employees Engaged in Alleged Cover-Up: Report - NBC New York
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Chicago Police Employees Engaged in Alleged Cover-Up: Report

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Questions Swirl Around Eddie Johnson Saga

    Questions continue to swirl around the firing of former CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Was there a coverup? Tonight we learn the officers who found him are seeking help from their union. NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski has the story. 

    (Published Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019)

    More details are emerging in the scandal surrounding former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, according to a new report indicating that more Chicago police employees are under investigation for an alleged cover-up to protect him.

    The Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday that multiple CPD employees were under investigation for allegedly trying to protect Johnson by covering up the circumstances surrounding the incident in which he was found asleep at the wheel of his SUV in the early morning hours of Oct. 17.

    Lightfoot fired Johnson on Monday, saying he "intentionally misled" her and the public with his explanation of the incident. Johnson initially said a change in medication triggered the incident and he felt "lightheaded" while driving, ordering an internal investigation into the matter. Lightfoot said at the time that Johnson admitted to her that he "had a couple of drinks with dinner."

    But in firing him Monday, Lightfoot said she saw evidence from the inspector general's report that led her to believe that 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."

    "I've reviewed the inspector general's report and videotape evidence and makes it clear that the only choice that I had to take was the one that I've taken. There's no gray area here," Lightfoot said. "I saw things that were inconsistent with what he told me personally and what he revealed to members of the public."

    Lightfoot declined to offer specifics of the report and its evidence, saying she did not believe it would be "appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson's wife or children to do so at this time."

    A source confirmed to NBC 5 that Johnson was out to dinner that night with a female colleague in the department, and that Johnson has not yet seen the video to which Lightfoot was referring. 

    Johnson's termination Monday came one month before his planned retirement - announced at a celebratory news conference weeks after the incident in question, with Lightfoot at his side - was set to take effect.

    Johnson said in a statement via his attorney on Tuesday that he was "of course disappointed" that he could not finish his career on Jan. 1 but that he does "respect" Lightfoot's decision.

    "One thing I want everyone to know is this: I did not intentionally mislead or deceive the Mayor or the people of Chicago," Johnson's statement reads.

    "I acknowledge that I made a poor decision and had a lapse of judgment on the night of October 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," he continued.

    "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."

    Inspector General Joe Ferguson's investigation into the incident remains ongoing. Citing a source close to the investigation, the Sun-Times reported Tuesday that the alleged cover-up that took place that night and the next day could be "even worse than" the incident itself.