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Lightfoot releases some emails related to botched Anjanette Young raid

“I have a lot of questions about this one,” the mayor asked in one email about the February 2019 raid on the social worker’s home. Chicago police also released a slew of documents and video from the raid on Wednesday.

Police body camera video shows the raid on the home of Anjanette Young.
Police body camera video shows the raid on the home of Anjanette Young.
CBS 2 Chicago

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Wednesday released some — but not all — records related to the botched raid of Anjanette Young’s home that confirm Lightfoot was alerted to the search more than a year ago in an email from a staffer who called it “pretty bad.”

The emails and other documents released Wednesday are from 2019 and are “not exhaustive or comprehensive of a full review of all emails surrounding the raid on Ms. Young’s home,” the mayor’s press office said in a statement accompanying the release of the documents.

“While it’s clear that I focused my response to this information on the policy change we unquestionably needed, I should have paused to ask more questions about Ms. Young’s well-being and the video itself,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “I am sorry that I didn’t do that then, and I’m committed to doing all that I can now to righting the wrongs Ms. Young experienced. Now is the time for meaningful change, and I won’t rest until we can be sure that what happened to Ms. Young never happens again.”

Also on Wednesday, the Chicago Police Department released a trove of documents and video from the raid.

“We will continue working with all parties involved to ensure complete transparency on the search warrant conducted on Ms. Young’s home, as well as full cooperation with the ongoing investigation,” CPD Supt. David Brown said in a statement.

The video shows that the sergeant in charge of the raid turns off his body-worn camera when he steps outside to talk to the officer who got the search warrant for the raid. By that time, Young had repeatedly told officers they had the wrong house. Outside with the officer, the sergeant says “private conversation,” and his video goes dark. It’s unclear why the sergeant stopped his camera at that point, and it is certain to raise questions.

Keenan Saulter is the attorney who represents Young. Simone Jackson, director of communications and strategy for Saulter’s law office, said neither Saulter nor Young would comment on the release of the emails at this time.

The documents show a flurry of emails within Lightfoot’s office about the raid and the release of body camera footage after reporters from CBS2 said they planned to run a story about the raid.

Michael Crowley, the mayor’s communication director, asked then-deputy mayor for public safety Susan Lee if Lightfoot knew about the botched raid. Lee responded: “I told her there was a bad incident but didn’t go into details. Please forward info or do you want me to?”

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, who was a victim of a botched raid by the Chicago Police Department in 2019, speaks to the press outside Chicago Police Department headquarters on Dec. 16.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Lee later went on to alert Lightfoot on Nov. 11, 2019, forwarding the email chain about the raid and the upcoming story and writing saying “please see below for a pretty bad wrongful raid coming out tomorrow” referencing an earlier CBS2 story about the raid, which ran long before the bodycam video was released.

In her response sent not long after Lee’s email, Lightfoot adds Tamika Puckett, who served as the city’s chief risk officer at the time, to the chain and responds, “I have a lot of questions about this one. Can we do a quick call about it?…”

Lee resigned in October from that post; she had been appointed in June 2019.

The newly released records also show that, on the night of the raid, police were looking for a man who they believed was illegally possessing a handgun. The man, who the Chicago Sun-Times is not naming because he was not charged in connection with the raid, was convicted of robbery in 2016 and could not legally have a gun, court records show.

In a statement released with the documents, a spokesperson for Lightfoot says her office “has been and remains committed to full transparency surrounding the police raid on Anjanette Young’s home and all subsequent actions and activity, as well as identifying all other victims and righting wrongs.

“The raid at Ms. Young’s home took place on February 21, 2019 — three months prior to Mayor Lightfoot taking office,” the statement reads in part. “Nonetheless, the Mayor has made clear that there must be full accountability for the actions of all involved in the incident as well as the City’s response.”

The raid on Young’s home — and CBS2’s decision to broadcast the bodycam footage — put Lightfoot’s administration on the defensive and has already lead to high-level changes at City Hall.

Nearly a dozen officers went to Young’s home in February 2019 to execute a search warrant, though they were acting on bad information.

Young could be heard on the video telling the officers — more than 40 times — that they were in the wrong home. Young, a social worker, was getting ready for bed at the time and was naked when officers came inside.

One of the videos released by CPD Wednesday shows police battering in the door to Young’s residence and barging in, yelling “Police! Search warrant!”

Inside, as officers rush through, searching the rooms, Young could be heard telling them, “I live alone. What is going on here? You’ve got the wrong house.”

Then one of the officers tells her to “relax,” and Young becomes more defiant.

“You’re telling me to relax? ... Please let me call somebody. ... I have to call somebody. This is not right.”

Earlier this month, attorneys in the city’s Law Department asked a federal judge to block CBS from airing the footage because it was under a protective order that kept it from the public eye. The city also, briefly, called for sanctions against Saulter, who eventually admitted to leaking the footage to CBS.

Those filings from the city were made in a since-dropped lawsuit that Young brought against the city. Young has since filed another lawsuit against the city related to the denial of her Freedom of Information Act request for the now-infamous bodycam footage.

The fallout from the raid lead to the resignation of the city’s top lawyer, former Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner. He was replaced, on an interim basis, by Celia Meza, the mayor’s counsel and senior ethics adviser.

The officers who took part in the raid all have been assigned to desk duty while the Civilian Office of Police Accountability continues to investigate. Sydney Roberts, COPA’s chief administrator, told the Chicago Police Board earlier this month the agency’s investigation should be completed next month. The Office of the Inspector General is also looking into the raid.

Meanwhile, Lightfoot asked retired federal judge Ann Claire Williams, now of counsel at the law firm Jones Day, to lead another inquiry into the search.