Anjanette Young, the social worker who was forced to stand naked before a dozen male Chicago police officers while they executed a search warrant at the wrong address, will get $2.9 million under a settlement unanimously advanced Monday.
The voice vote by the City Council’s Finance Committee sets the stage for full Council approval on Wednesday, culminating a yearlong ordeal that Mayor Lori Lightfoot has acknowledged breached public trust in her administration.
“We all saw that horrific video. We all saw the way in which she was treated. ... It’s a good thing that this matter is resolved,” Lightfoot said Monday.
“Assuming City Council approval, this will provide her with a substantial amount of resources. That’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for our city. We need to heal from this and move forward.”
Bodycam video of the February 2019 raid on Young’s home that the Lightfoot administration tried to conceal was so damaging, Corporation Counsel Celia Meza made the presentation to alderpersons during Monday’s hearing.
Meza told the Finance Committee that officers were at Young’s home “executing a valid, legal search warrant” that turned out to be based on false information that a male with a gun was living at that address and that the officers “knocked and announced” themselves before entering Young’s home.
The corporation counsel further noted that, although the raid continued for roughly 40 minutes, Young was forced to stand in a “complete state of undress” for just 16 seconds. A jacket was then placed around her shoulders for 13 seconds, followed by a blanket, the corporation counsel said.
It took a full 10 minutes before Young was allowed to get fully dressed, and only after a female officer arrived on the scene.
In September, the city filed a motion to dismiss Young’s lawsuit and five of the six counts were dismissed.
Meza said the count that remained was the social worker’s claim that the conduct of officers was “willful and wanton” and would allow attorneys to take “very broad discovery” that could be exceedingly costly to Chicago taxpayers because it would involve depositions of all 12 police officers involved in the raid.
The city’s case would be further damaged by the fact that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended the firing of one officer involved in the raid and suspensions for five others, Meza said.
For those reasons and more, Meza argued that $2.9 million was a good deal for Chicago taxpayers. It’s on par with the $2.5 million paid in 2014 after another raid on the wrong home where “a gun was unfortunately pointed at a 3-year-old,” Meza said.
“In this case, we have the indignities that Ms. Young suffered and the fact that she was in a state of undress for a total of approximately 16 seconds and, arguably before a jury, the 13 seconds where the jacket was put on and the 9 1/2 [minutes] where she had a blanket over her. ... A jury could find that that was 9 1/2 minutes too long. That was 16 seconds too long,” the corporation counsel said.
Meza noted that lawyers for people wrongly convicted are arguing for $1 million for every year spent in prison.
“In this particular instance, it is not unreasonable to assume that there would be a request for anywhere between $13 million and $16 million. Thirteen million for every officer and the city that was involved in execution of this search warrant. [Or] it could be $16 million for the 16 seconds that she was left in a complete state of undress,” Meza said.
In June, Alderpersons Ray Lopez (15th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) used a parliamentary maneuver to delay Meza’s appointment to protest her decision to file a motion to dismiss Young’s lawsuit after the social worker refused to accept what her attorneys viewed as a “low-ball” offer to settle for $1 million.
On Monday, Lopez argued that $2.9 million was “not enough” to compensate Young for the “horrible way she was treated that day” and for what he called the “re-victimization by this administration constantly going after her.”
Lightfoot has been under fire for her changing story about what she knew and when she knew it about the raid that saw a crying Young telling officers more than 40 times that they had the wrong house as they allowed her to stand there naked
The mayor initially insisted she knew nothing about the raid until WBBM-TV (Channel 2) aired the video in December. But after reviewing internal emails, the mayor was forced to admit she learned about the raid in November 2019, when a top aide warned Lightfoot about a “pretty bad wrongful raid” by Chicago police.
The mayor has denied knowing about her Law Department’s efforts to block CBS2 from airing bodycam video of the raid. To underscore the point, she forced the resignation of Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner, a longtime friend who served with Lightfoot in the U.S. attorney’s office.
Asked Monday if she would release now-former Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s full report on the city’s handling of the raid on Young’s home and the aftermath of it, Lightfoot would only say that she would “follow the law.” But she argued that the internal investigation is not over.
“We’ve raised a number of questions. The departments involved have not had an opportunity to respond yet,” she said.
Likewise, Lightfoot said she expects an outside law firm’s parallel investigation of the raid —which Ferguson claims hamstrung his investigation — to be released, but only when the Jones Day law firm is ready.