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Report finds mistakes by city but no malicious intent to hide information about Anjanette Young police raid

The report by Ann Claire Williams was released one day after the City Council unanimously approved a $2.9 million settlement for Young.

Retired federal Judge Ann Claire Williams shares details about a report on the city’s response to the botched raid of Anjanette Young’s home. Williams’ law firm, Jones Day, compiled a report that was released Thursday.
Retired federal Judge Ann Claire Williams shares details about a report on the city’s response to the botched raid of Anjanette Young’s home. Williams’ law firm, Jones Day, compiled a report that was released Thursday.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The city’s response to the botched police raid of Anjanette Young’s home failed “to adequately consider her dignity” and didn’t always follow proper procedure, but city officials didn’t try to maliciously hide anything from the public, according to an independent report issued Thursday.

The report by the law firm Jones Day focused on whether there was any malicious intent to hide information or mislead the public regarding the botched raid.

“Based on the facts uncovered in our review, the answer is no,” said Ann Claire Williams, the retired federal judge who led the probe.

Retired federal Judge Ann Claire Williams speaks during a news conference with other Jones Day attorneys Thursday morning in the Loop, sharing details about a report on the city’s response to the botched raid of Anjanette Young’s home.
Retired federal Judge Ann Claire Williams speaks during a news conference with other Jones Day attorneys Thursday morning in the Loop, sharing details about a report on the city’s response to the botched raid of Anjanette Young’s home.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The report was released one day after the City Council unanimously approved a $2.9 million settlement for Young.

A separate 163-page report by now-former Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson on the raid has yet to be publicly released by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. Ferguson said his office’s investigation was hamstrung by the parallel probe by Jones Day.

Ferguson said his investigators interviewed “almost three dozen people” and reviewed “tens of thousands of pages of emails and other government records.” But he was unable to recommend disciplinary action because Williams’ team’s interviews with 20 of the same city employees. Lightfoot’s administration then claimed “attorney-client privilege” to shield that information from him, Ferguson said.

Lightfoot picked Williams, who is a professional acquaintance, to conduct the review.

“I personally sat for an extensive interview and gave them full access to my office and relevant city departments,” Lightfoot said in a statement issued Thursday. “We look forward to reviewing the full report and implementing any policies and procedures that may result as indicated in the investigation.”

Young was not interviewed during the Jones Day probe.

The report found the city failed to “adequately consider Ms. Young’s dignity in the course of its actions or prioritize egregious misconduct for fast-track review.”

It also found the city didn’t “adequately communicate within and across departments” and that “some employees did not live up to the public service mission.”

The probe encountered a sentiment of that’s “not my job” or siloed behavior resulting in a scattered response, the report said.

It suggested the city create a single database to track Freedom of Information Requests; dedicate a city attorney to work with police on requests; train FOIA officers with an emphasis on the “core value of transparency;” and develop a uniform way for police to log body camera footage.

Young’s home was raided in February 2019 by police, who were acting on a bad tip.

Young was undressed and getting ready for bed when police burst into her home looking for a man with a gun. She was forced to remain in handcuffs and naked in a room full of male police officers.

Anjanette Young speaks during a news conference outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters in December 2020.
Anjanette Young speaks during a news conference outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters in December 2020.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

The report concluded that Lightfoot made an honest mistake when she said in December 2020 — amid fury after the release of a video showing the botched raid — that she’d just learned about the raid and was as angry as everyone else.

In reality, Lightfoot had learned about the raid 13 months earlier when a staffer emailed to tell her about the botched raid and impending media coverage of the event.

“That was a mistake,” said Williams.

Williams recommended that Lightfoot’s team fact-check her statements before issuing them.

“It’s incumbent upon public officials to make sure the information they’re providing is accurate,” she said.

The video of the raid was also a focal point of the report because of the city’s effort to keep it under wraps.

Williams specifically pointed to the city attorney’s effort to seek legal action to prevent WBBM-Channel 2 from airing video, which a judge had ordered not to be shared with the public.

The city changed its policies and now requires written consent from the mayor’s office before filing legal action against news organizations.

Williams said the city’s corporation counsel had not seen the video and, from a legal standpoint, the maneuver may have been appropriate but it was not “a decision made in context,” she said.

Considerations of “transparency, sensitivity and the impact of the decision on Chicago residents and public trust” should have been taken into account, she said.

The city’s legal effort to sanction Young for sharing the video was ultimately scuttled.

“But the bottom line here: There was no malicious intent to mislead or hide from Ms. Young, the media or the public,” Williams said.

On Thursday Lightfoot said the city will learn from the report and is already training employees to be more sensitive to residents’ concerns.

“We cannot forget our residents’ humanity,” she said. “Every single year, there are hundreds of cases that are filed against the city of Chicago. But there’s a resident who’s saying they are aggrieved in some way. … We still have to treat them with dignity and respect.”

Contributing: Fran Spielman