Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson is at odds with his predecessor about a high-level 2012 promotion of one of the department’s leading recipients of excessive-force complaints.
A police department statement says Johnson “had no involvement” in the promotion, which made Lt. Glenn Evans a district commander. Since becoming a Chicago cop, Evans had received 114 misconduct complaints, about half alleging excessive force, according to city records obtained by WBEZ.
“There is no indication in Evans’ personnel file that [Johnson] was involved in the promotional process,” the statement says.
But former police Supt. Garry McCarthy, in a sworn deposition obtained by WBEZ, recalls the promotion differently.
“I believe that it was Eddie Johnson who made the recommendation,” McCarthy testified, adding that he was “not positive.”
“I believe it was Eddie Johnson, who was his commander in [District] 6,” McCarthy said, referring to Gresham, a South Side police district.
Johnson was the Gresham commander from 2008 to 2011. Evans, one of his lieutenants, reported to him. Johnson left the district to become a deputy chief. Evans’ promotion to commander put Johnson in charge of him again.
Police department spokesmen on Thursday did not respond to questions, including how the promotion could have occurred without Johnson’s involvement.
Besides the complaints, Evans had also been suspended from duty at least 11 times, according to city records obtained by WBEZ. The two longest suspensions, both 15 days, stemmed from excessive-force complaints.
After the promotion, Evans was the subject of more complaints. DNA evidence from a 2013 incident revealed by WBEZ led Cook County prosecutors to criminally charge him with putting his service pistol into the mouth and throat of a suspect and threatening his life.
In the deposition, obtained using the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, McCarthy defended his decision to disregard a 2014 recommendation from the Independent Police Review Authority that Evans be relieved of police powers in light of that DNA evidence.
“You cannot force a weapon into somebody’s throat without causing a physical injury,” McCarthy testified. “There would be an abrasion. There would be a cut. There would be broken teeth [and the IPRA chief] told me that there was — that the individual had no injury.”
A judge acquitted Evans last December.
Before and after the promotion, Evans was also a subject of lawsuits alleging excessive force. Those suits have led to at least seven settlements totaling $324,999, according to a WBEZ review of court filings and city Law Department records. The settlements all specify that the city and Evans deny wrongdoing and liability.
The McCarthy deposition took place January 20 in a federal suit that remains pending. The plaintiff, Rita King, says Evans used excessive force against her inside the Gresham station on April 10, 2011. Johnson was the district commander at the time.
King, arrested after a domestic conflict, was not cooperating with officers’ attempts to fingerprint and photograph her. Evans recognized her from previous encounters, he testified in a February 29 deposition.
“She was frequently a guest of [the police station] lobby and she would stay there and sleep and frequent during times of inclement weather,” he said in the deposition. Evans testified that he made physical contact with King’s head and arms before she finally cooperated.
Two days after the incident, a Roseland Community Hospital physician examined King and found multiple facial bone fractures, according to a hospital record reviewed by WBEZ.
Fighting the lawsuit, the city has argued that Evans used “a reasonable degree of force” to control King.
Johnson is now opposing an IPRA recommendation that Evans be fired for the incident. If Johnson and IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley do not agree on Evans’ discipline, the case will go to a three-member panel of the city’s Police Board.
For any discipline more severe than a 30-day suspension, the Police Board would hold a trial-like evidentiary hearing before making the final decision.
Evans’ attorney, Kenneth Battle, has not responded to requests for comment about the case.