Chicago cop who used 'force without justification' against CPS student in 2018 faces year suspension

A Chicago cop who is accused of using unjustified force against a Chicago Public Schools student three years ago is now facing just over a year’s suspension after a single police board member overruled the superintendent’s recommendation for a slightly lighter punishment Thursday.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended Officer Mark Johnson be suspended from the department for a period of 366 days for the incident, which happened on Oct. 29, 2018, while the officer was off duty and working a second job as a CPS security officer.

Though Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown agreed with COPA’s findings that the officer applied force without justification and behaved unprofessionally, he curiously proposed a 365-day suspension instead, only one day less than COPA’s recommendation.

The differing opinions triggered a process in which a single member of the nine-person police board, chosen at random, would decide if the officer would face an evidentiary hearing.


In a five-page ruling, board member Paula Wolff found that Brown did not meet the burden necessary to overrule COPA. "While the one-day difference may seem minimal to some, it is important for several reasons, the most important of which is that Officer Johnson will be removed from duty for an extra day," she wrote.

According to the document, Johnson was working security for CPS at Arthur Ashe Elementary in Chatham when he pressed his thumbs against the temple of an 8-year-old student without justification. He also poked the student in the chest and pushed him into a chair.

Johnson also told the student, "I will use pressure points to make you [defecate] on yourself," according to the document.

"Johnson is an adult who, despite his age difference, his size, and position of authority, still resorted to physical force and intimidation, including using profanity against the child," Wolff wrote. "He then did not acknowledge his misconduct but attempted to blame the child for the interaction."

The case will now go to the full board, which will hold evidentiary hearings and decide the officer’s fate.