EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Johnson defends self — ‘I have to base my decision on facts’

SHARE EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Johnson defends self — ‘I have to base my decision on facts’

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Sneed exclusive . . . . 

It’s Eddie’s story.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson may now be in the crosshairs of the police reform movement, but he tells Sneed:

“I have to be fair, to fight emotion. And I have to stay on point with the process,” said top cop Johnson in an exclusive phone interview while on vacation with his family.


At issue: public disclosures Tuesday of Johnson’s rejection of findings by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) that Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo was guilty of an unjustified shooting when he fatally shot Quintonio LeGrier — who police claim was wielding a bat — as well as a bystander, Bettie Jones, in 2015.

“What the African-American community needs to know is they may find somebody [to replace me] who is passionate and sensitive to the African-American plight and disparity in Chicago, but they won’t find anyone as passionate and sensitive as me,” Johnson said regarding those disappointed with his decision.

“The Chicago Police Department took the lives of those people — but the CPD regulations process was still in place when Officer Robert Rialmo killed Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones,” Johnson told Sneed.

• Backshot: Johnson’s decision, which also rejected the firing of Rialmo and questioned COPA’s investigatory process, was sent via letter to COPA on March 22. A copy of the letter, which had been ordered sealed  by Cook County Judge James O’Hara, was obtained by the Sun-Times.

• Back pat: Kevin Graham, head of the Fraternal Order of Police, lauded Johnson on Tuesday and stated: “Rialmo was not guilty of a crime. Officer Rialmo fired his gun in defense of himself when Mr. [Quintonio] LeGrier came at him with a baseball bat.”

“Mike, what you don’t understand is I don’t get to make a decision on whether the shooting of Quintonio LeGrier is justified or not,” Johnson told Sneed.

“What I get to do is decide on whether the use of force according to the police regulations was justified,” he said.

Was it a tragic accident?

“I can’t ignore facts of the case and I have to base my decision on facts in whatever case I’m dealing with,” Johnson added.

“At the end of the day, I will always be fair and will always base my decisions on the law, department policy and procedures.”

Melania madness . . . 

Is first lady Melania Trump unhappy?

Is President Donald Trump in the White House doghouse?

Has Melania — fully aware of her husband’s penchant for past extramarital affairs — chosen a special form of waterboarding: stealth outings since “Stormy” weather erupted in January?

• Translation: Since porn star Stormy Daniels announced she’d had sex with Trump shortly after the birth of Melania’s son, Barron, Melania’s unannounced outings solo have been to a holocaust memorial, on motorcades and most recently, to an acute care children’s hospital where patients were described as “brave.”


• On Jan. 20, to mark the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, Melania merely tweeted a photo minus her husband marking the “many wonderful moments” and noting the people she’s “been lucky enough to meet throughout our great country; the world.”

• On Jan. 22, the Trumps’ 13th wedding anniversary — there was nary a word via Twitter or the White House on how it was celebrated. Or if it even was celebrated?

• On Jan. 25, the first lady was flying solo again, canceling her trip with her husband  to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Instead, Melania visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., her arrival noted only by a tweet by her press secretary after she was gone.

During February there were private Melania motorcades the month former Playboy bunny Karen McDougal claimed she’d had a 10-month affair with Trump shortly after Barron was born.

On Thursday, Melania’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, tweeted Melania, aka FLOTUS, had made a “surprise” visit to St. Mary’s Medical Center (which houses an acute care children’s complex) in West Palm Palm, Florida, to deliver Easter baskets — while the first family stayed at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate in Palm Beach.

The baskets were said to contain crayons, coloring books, playing cards, stickers and plush bunnies.

Melania then tweeted: “Enjoyed my visit to @StMarysMC today. So great to spend time with some of their brave patients and hard-working doctors and nurses.”

An interesting choice of word, “brave.”

The Trumps are now scheduled to return to Washington D.C. on  Sunday in advance of Monday’s Easter Egg Roll at the White House.


Will Melania find a new sparkler in her Easter basket?

Will the Easter bunny visit Trump?


Stay tuned.

Sneedlings . . .

Today’s birthdays: Celine Dion, 50; Richard Sherman, 30; Norah Jones, 39.

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