Multiple sources reveal narrative of fired police superintendent
By Erick Johnson
Before he was captured on video dining with a woman at Ceres Cafe, fired Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson visited a Black-owned bar in the South Loop where he drank with a handful of officers, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Crusader.
The sources said that was the beginning of a night that started with a lot of booze.
The revelation adds to the changing narrative of a story that led to Johnson’s termination as police superintendent on December 2. That day, Mayor Lori Lightfoot—citing an inspector general report and videotape—fired Johnson for “intolerable actions.” She accused him of lying to her and the public when he gave shifting explanations after he was found slumped over in his vehicle on October 17 near his home in Bridgeport.
Johnson first blamed the incident on his blood pressure medication before telling the mayor he had a few drinks that evening at a restaurant, which later turned out to be Ceres Café.
Multiple sources who spoke to the Crusader said before Johnson went to Ceres Café, he visited Bar 22, a Black-owned establishment near 23rd and Michigan. There, sources said from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Johnson had several drinks with at least 10 plainclothes Chicago police officers.
The Crusader called Bar 22 to confirm whether Johnson was there that evening. A man answered the phone and simply said, “No comment” before hanging up the phone.
Those same sources said Officer Cynthia Donald was the woman who was seen having several drinks with Johnson for hours at Ceres Café in the Chicago Board of Trade building.
Sources say Donald was part of Johnson’s security detail, but was removed in the wake of Johnson’s termination as police superintendent. Sources also said that the two were constantly kissing and were captured on the restaurant’s video system.
After police responded to a 911 call at the intersection of Aberdeen and West 34th Street, sources also told the Crusader that Donald performed oral sex on Johnson as he sat with his head laid back giving the appearance that he was asleep in the car. When the officers approached the plain, black police SUV, Johnson flashed his badge before he drove away. Last year, Officer Donald filed for divorce.
During her announcement of Johnson’s termination, Lightfoot declined to reveal details of the inspector general’s report, saying, “I don’t feel like it is appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson’s wife or children to do so at this time.”
But sources say Johnson and his wife, Lieutenant Nakia Fenner, have been separated for some time. They were married in 2017 while Johnson was recovering from a kidney transplant. The two were publicly together during Johnson’s announcement of his retirement at police headquarters on November 7, and the two traveled to London on October 6 to see the Chicago Bears play the Oakland Raiders. However, sources say privately, the two live separate lives.
The Crusader has filed to get the 911 call tapes as sources say it was a female who called police from a police department cellphone.
Lightfoot said the inspector general’s report will be released at a later date.
One day after he was fired, Johnson released a lengthy statement through his attorney, Tom Needham, denying the mayor’s accusation that he misled her and the public. His statement did not address the “intolerable actions” that the mayor mentioned when she fired Johnson.
Johnson said in a statement, “One thing I want everyone to know is this: I did not intentionally mislead or deceive the mayor or the people of Chicago. I acknowledge that I made a poor decision and had a lapse of judgement on the night of October 16. That was a mistake, and I know that.”
Before he was removed as police superintendent, Johnson was set to retire at the end of the month after three decades on the force. He will likely keep his pension because he did not commit a criminal act that led to a felony conviction.
As police superintendent, Johnson earned $260,000 annually. He was appointed to the top job by former mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2016—months after former police superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired after the release of a video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. The City Council unanimously approved Emanuel’s appointment by a 50-0 vote.
Hours after Johnson lost his job, former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who was named as an interim replacement, took over Monday and spent the day meeting with department officials. On Wednesday, Mayor Lightfoot said Johnson is officially retired and no longer on the CPD payroll.
Crusader journalist Patrice Nkrumah contributed to this report.