Deputy Bellevue police chief retires after 'major lapse in judgment'

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- A high-ranking Bellevue police official has abruptly retired, rather than face discipline over an incident the police chief called a “major lapse in judgment.”

Q13 FOX News has learned that Deputy Chief Michael D. Johnson was pulled over by Sammamish police on October 24 while taking his teenage son and his son’s friends to a school function. Johnson was driving them in his unmarked police vehicle, using the emergency lights and sirens to blow through an intersection, forcing other vehicles to move out of the way.

“He offered no excuses, he didn’t try to rationalize it. He took responsibility immediately and he decided to retire from his career,” Police Chief Steve Mylett said Friday.

“He had ambition of becoming chief at some point, so this is a tremendous loss for him.”

Mylett said Johnson called him immediately after the incident to inform him of what happened and expressed “embarrassment and remorse.”

Mylett placed Johnson on paid administrative leave, but he retired before an investigation could take place.

“For him it’s the end of his career here in the city of Bellevue,” Mylett said.

Johnson was a 24-year veteran of the Bellevue Police Department with no other significant incidents on his personnel file, Mylett said.

The Sammamish Police Department could not be reached for comment on the case. It is unclear if Johnson received a citation after being pulled over, or whether the investigation is ongoing.

The Bellevue Police Department has been rocked by scandal in recent years, including two officers who were thrown out of a Seattle Seahawks game for being drunk and belligerent and two members of the command staff who were demoted for hiding an affair.

When Mylett was hired as chief earlier this year, he promised to change the culture within the department by setting an example for officers. He also pledged to be more transparent with the public on matters of officer misconduct.