CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi disclosed on Friday that Superintendent Eddie Johnson has a “longstanding kidney issue,” but said it was not the cause of an episode of dizziness during a news conference about the city’s campaign against gang and gun violence.
Guglielmi was responding to reports in the Chicago Sun-Times and other media that Johnson, 57, had kidney problems. The spokesman posted the update on Twitter after Johnson appeared dazed and had to sit down while Mayor Rahm Emanuel was announcing an initiative to reduce homicides and shootings.
“He is not on dialysis and does not have diabetes,” Guglielmi said, adding that Johnson is fine and is in “great spirits.”
“He has been managing his kidney problem for 30 years, nearly his entire adult life,” Guglielmi said. “I don’t know if it is on a level that he needs a transplant.”
While Emanuel was speaking at the podium during the news conference, he stopped suddenly and turned to the police superintendent, asking “Are you OK?”
People then surrounded Johnson and several shouted: “Call 911.” Emanuel handed Johnson a bottle of water and the superintendent drank from it after sitting down in seats reserved for reporters.
Guglielmi said on Twitter that Johnson “felt light-headed” and didn’t lose consciousness.
“He was coherent and will go to an area hospital for examination,” Guglielmi said.
Johnson and the mayor were announcing technological advances for police at a station on the city’s South Side. Chicago police and city officials are under tremendous pressure to curb a rash of homicides and shootings in recent years.
Chicago ended 2016 with 762 homicides — or an average of two people killed per day, a rate that was widely reported at year’s end. It was the highest number of homicides in the city in two decades and more than Los Angeles and New York combined. Last year, there were 3,550 shootings, a nearly 50 percent increase over 2015.
Three days ago, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would “send in the Feds” if the city couldn’t fix the problem.
Johnson told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that Mr. Trump’s tweet baffled him.
“The statement is so broad. I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Johnson said.
Johnson replaced former Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired following the release of dashcam footage showing a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager 16 times. He didn’t apply to be the city’s top police officer. Emanuel chose Johnson for the job in March 2016, after rejecting three finalists recommended by the city’s police board.