An investigation of Eddie Johnson’s record as a supervisor in the Chicago Police Department before he was named superintendent uncovered what it calls a pattern of whitewashing questionable behavior by police officers, raising questions about the future of police reform in Chicago.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s history in the department raises troubling questions about the future of police reform in Chicago, The Intercept reports in the seventh in its Chicago Police Files series on alleged “corruption, racism and violence” in the Chicago Police Department, produced in partnership with the Invisible Institute. The publication’s investigation of Johnson’s record uncovered what it calls a pattern of whitewashing questionable behavior by police officers, including the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, an unarmed woman hanging out in a park whose 2012 death later cost the city a $4.5 million settlement with the victim’s family.
Drawing on documents obtained by the Invisible Institute via litigation and included in the Citizens Police Data Project, the investigation shows that Johnson repeatedly approved police shootings or ignored allegations of excessive force over his years as a supervisor, consistently finding that they did not qualify as misconduct. In a decade as a senior CPD supervisor, Johnson personally investigated or commanded the officers responsible for six controversial shootings that left five people dead — all young African-Americans — and cost Chicago more than $13 million in misconduct payments. Johnson’s tenure as commander of Chicago’s 6th Police District from 2008 to 2011 was marred by serious allegations of misconduct by an elite tactical squad led by a scandal-plagued lieutenant named Glenn Evans. During six months in 2010, members of the roughly 45-person team participated in the fatal shootings of three men, all unarmed or fleeing. Another of Johnson’s officers was credibly accused of killing a teenager and planting a gun on his body. After his promotion to deputy chief in 2011, Johnson reviewed and approved more disputed shootings. Neither Johnson nor Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ever acknowledged the superintendent’s involvement in some of the department’s most notorious recent police shootings, The Intercept wrote.