Spotlight Politics: Top Cop Ousted Weeks Before Retirement

A bombshell announcement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot – with few specifics. Our politics team of Amanda Vinicky and Carol Marin weighs in during this week’s Spotlight Politics.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was definitive when she announced early Monday that she had fired Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson “for cause, effective immediately.”

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But the specific reasons for that move are unclear.

“When there are ethical lapses, lapses in judgment, particularly in a position of trust like the superintendent of police, then it is incumbent upon me and all of us to ensure accountability. That’s why I decided to take this clear and decisive action today,” she said at a hastily called City Hall press conference.

Lightfoot made her decision after having reviewed a preliminary report from city Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who was investigating Johnson’s actions on Oct. 17, when officers responding to a call found him slumped over the wheel of his running car.

But that report is not public, and all of the supporting case evidence – including video evidence – may never be.

Lightfoot refused to elaborate Monday on what she saw or read that led to her repeated accusations of Johnson’s ethical lapses and lying, citing both the ongoing nature of the inspector general’s report and respect for Johnson’s family (he is married to a police officer).

“I will not comment today on specific details as they relate to Mr. Johnson,” Lightfoot said Monday. “Although at some point the inspector general’s report may become public and those details may be revealed, I don’t feel like it is appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson’s wife or children to do so at this time. I hope we can all take care to treat them with dignity and respect.”

Lightfoot’s remarks led to widespread speculation as to what behavior would have led to such a comment.

News from Springfield

Meanwhile, turnover is coming to Springfield as Democratic state senators continue to parry to see who will replace Sen. John Cullerton as the chamber’s leader, and as state Rep. Celina Villanueva appears to have the blessing of party leaders to fill the Senate seat vacated Friday by Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, who resigned citing distraction.

The FBI earlier this fall raided Sandoval’s office in a sprawling probe. The across-the-rotunda move means that Villanueva’s House seat will need to be temporarily filled.

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Related stories:

Lightfoot Fires Top Cop Eddie Johnson for ‘Intolerable Actions’

Ex-LAPD Top Cop Charlie Beck Named Interim Chicago Police Superintendent

Top Cop Eddie Johnson Announces Retirement: ‘It’s Time’

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