Retired federal judge, outside law firm to investigate botched CPD raid, mayor says

Retired federal Judge Ann Claire Williams and Chicago-based law firm Jones Day will lead an outside investigation.

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Anjanette Young, who was a victim of a botched raid by the Chicago Police Department in 2019, tears up as she speaks to the press outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters, Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020.

Anjanette Young, victim of a botched raid by the Chicago Police Department in 2019, tears up as she speaks to the press outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters last week.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced retired federal Judge Ann Claire Williams and Chicago-based law firm Jones Day will lead an outside investigation of the botched Chicago police raid on the home of social worker Anjanette Young in 2019.

Video from the raid at the home of Anjanette Young shows her pleading with police officers, telling them they were in the wrong home, as she was handcuffed and naked.

City Council members learned of the outside investigation Tuesday just minutes before two Council committees — Health and Human Relations, and Public Safety — held a joint hearing to address CPD search warrant procedures.

“Her mandate will include every relevant department, including the Mayor’s Office,” Lightfoot said in the letter announcing the investigation. “We want a review of the procedures and process in place that allowed this incident and subsequent actions to unfold as they did.”

Williams is of counsel at Jones Day, and Lightfoot assured Williams that she and the firm will have the “full cooperation” of the city.

“She will follow the facts where they lead. The results of her investigation will be shared with you and the public.” Lightfoot said.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said Lightfoot’s letter, which he received 30 minutes before the joint hearing, was a surprise. He disagrees with the appointment and believes the mayor should recuse herself completely from the investigation.

“I don’t think that any elected official that is subjected to investigation should be appointing an independent investigator for this case,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “I do agree we need to have an independent investigator, but it should not be appointed by the mayor given that her office is a focus of the investigation.”

Appointing someone other than the Inspector General Joe Ferguson will only create confusion, Sigcho-Lopez said, and won’t boost public confidence.

In the letter, the mayor said she still supports an investigation by Ferguson and has directed her staff to cooperate with his team in every way.

Young was getting ready for bed and naked when nearly a dozen officers broke down her door to execute a search warrant — a warrant authorized on bad information. She was immediately handcuffed, and officers failed to properly cover her body.

Young pleaded with officers and told them, more than 40 times, they were in the wrong home.

A screenshot from body-camera video of a police raid in 2019 at the home of social worker Anjanette Young. The police were in the wrong home.

A screenshot from body-camera video of a police raid in 2019 at the home of social worker Anjanette Young. The police were in the wrong home.

CBS 2 Chicago

The encounter was captured on police body-worn camera and broadcast earlier this month on CBS Channel 2. The event took place in February 2019, but the city fought to prevent the broadcast of the video, and took legal action against Young.

And though the city, after backlash, withdrew a request that Young’s lawyer be sanctioned for releasing the video to the media, a federal judge on Tuesday said he still may do so.

U.S. District Judge John Tharp made his comments during a hearing in which Young’s attorney, Keenan Saulter, admitted releasing the videos. Tharp asked for Saulter and his attorneys to provide more information in writing by Jan. 8 as he weighs his decision.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) tweeted she appreciated Lightfoot’s efforts in investigating the wrongful raid but questioned whether it would bring about any change.

“Also, will this investigation interfere with one by OIG? Too many cooks in the kitchen may spoil the meat,” she tweeted Tuesday.

Hadden was also at the joint hearing to learn how search warrants are authorized and carried out by Chicago police.

“People have been horrified, rightfully so, by the video documenting the experience of Anjanette Young, the behavior that she was subjected to by our police department and by our city,” Hadden said at the meeting. “The truth of the matter is that it’s just all too common for Chicagoans in Black and Brown communities to have our rights violated, to have our homes invaded and to be humiliated and treated less than human.”

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Deborah Witzburg and Chief Administrator for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability Sydney Roberts all testified on their roles in approving or investigating search warrants.

Brown said the raid at Young’s house was not a “no-knock warrant” but was still “entirely unacceptable.” Everyone, he said, deserves a level of dignity Young was denied.

Tuesday’s meeting was a “subject matter” hearing — testimony but no vote. Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said that wasted valuable time.

“We are not looking for a subject matter hearing that is going to take eight to 10 months before we get some resolutions. We’re not looking to where people can vent and nothing comes out of it,” Beale said. “People are demanding action, and they are demanding action now.”

Contributing: Jon Seidel

Ann Claire Williams (right), then still a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, led a discussion with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University in 2017.

Ann Claire Williams (right), then still a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, led a discussion with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University in 2017. Williams was announced Tuesday as the person who will lead an outside investigation of a botched Chicago Police Department raid at the home of a social worker in 2019.

Sun-Times file

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