As a cloud of controversy continues to hover over former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, the city's Republican Party Chairman Chris Cleveland argues that no one is asking the most obvious question.
“If he were driving drunk, then yes, he should have been fired,” Cleveland told Chicago City Wire. “But we don't know that yet. The bigger question is, why didn't the officers give him a sobriety test? Is this another Koschman case, where cops cover up crimes by those close to top machine politicians?”
Thus far, the office of Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson has kept quiet about its findings from the night that led Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to abruptly terminate Johnson just days before he was set to retire after serving nearly three decades with the department. What’s known is that on the night in question, officers found Johnson asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle and allowed him to drive away without administering a field sobriety test.
Chicago Republican Party Chairman Chris Cleveland
Since then, investigators have reportedly obtained footage from that night that shows Johnson drinking at a downtown restaurant with a female member of his security detail. In announcing his termination, Lightfoot charged that Johnson repeatedly lied to her over the course of the initial investigation, leaving her with little choice but to end his career on the spot.
Now, at least some of the focus has turned to the question of whether Johnson’s alleged conduct might cost him even more than his job and reputation. While some experts argue that Johnson’s pension will remain intact, no matter what, others contend he still could be legally charged with drinking and driving based on eyewitness testimony ranging from declarations that his eyes were bloodshot to his breath reeked of alcohol to his speech was slurred and his balance unsteady.
WBEZ reports that IG investigators are also looking into how Johnson and other members of the department handled the incident. Several media outlets have reported members of Johnson’s security team are suspected of removing a SIM card from a cell phone that was targeted as potential evidence.
Finally, city officials could also move to punish Johnson in other ways such as rescinding a special identification card and star that Chicago officers typically receive when they leave the department in good standing. In addition, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board could move to block Johnson from being able to legally carry concealed firearms.
“There are just too many unanswered questions here,” Cleveland said. “All we can do is sit and watch.”