‘I want accountability,’ says woman seen in video of botched CPD raid
After Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Lori Lightfoot apologized: “Ms. Young, knowing that my words will not change what happened to you and your family almost two years ago, I nonetheless say: I am sorry. What you experienced should never have happened. Period.”
Anjanette Young doesn’t crave a spotlight.
“It’s not easy to put this type of exposure out there,” she said Wednesday outside of Chicago police headquarters in Bronzeville. “I’m somewhat of a private person, so this is not something that I enjoy doing, but this is something that’s very necessary.”
“If you ask me what I want from this, I want accountability,” Young said. “I don’t need social media followers, I don’t need that type of stuff. Accountability.”
For the past two days, footage of CPD officers incorrectly raiding Young’s Near West Side home has put City Hall on the defensive. 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. The encounter was captured on an officer’s body-worn camera and was broadcast by CBS earlier this week, over objections from the city’s Law Department. Young tried to obtain the footage herself through the Freedom of Information Act, but she was denied.
The video’s release has forced City Hall to confront the reality that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration fought to keep the footage under wraps, though Lightfoot has denied having knowledge of the raid until this week.
And though it wasn’t on the agenda, Young’s was a point of contention during the final City Council meeting of the year, as Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) clashed with Lightfoot over the specifics of the raid. After the meeting, Lightfoot offered Young a frank apology.
“Ms. Young’s dignity, that she and all of us deserve, was taken from her in those moments, and that is simply inexcusable,” Lightfoot said. “Ms. Young, knowing that my words will not change what happened to you and your family almost two years ago, I nonetheless say: I am sorry. What you experienced should never have happened. Period.”
“It’s unacceptable. It tells me they don’t care about me, a person who lives in this city. I work. I pay my taxes. I vote,” Young said, her voice shaking as a tear rolled down her cheek. “And so to have my home invaded the way it was, for over 40 minutes to have to deal with police officers yelling at me, pointing guns at me, telling me to calm down, making me stand in front of them naked, putting handcuffs on me while I was naked. No one should have to experience that. And there’s no way for that to go away.”
Young told reporters she voted for Lightfoot, who, as a candidate, visited Young’s church in the Armour Square neighborhood just a few blocks west of CPD headquarters.
Addressing Lightfoot directly, Young said: “I was there when you came to my church and you campaigned, and I was all on board for voting for you, and I did vote for you. I told my friends to vote for you. I believed in you as a Black woman that was running for mayor in the city of Chicago. So I want you to come back to my church and I want you to respond to this because that’s where you asked me to vote for you. So come back and tell me and the people at my church how you’re gonna fix this so this never happens again to me or to anyone else. It’s not OK.”
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) said it launched an investigation into the officers’ actions related to the search of Young’s home Nov. 12, 2019, shortly after Young filed a lawsuit against the city in connection with the raid. That investigation remains ongoing, COPA said.
As the suit was progressing, the city turned over the video footage to Young and her attorneys with a protective order in place that prevented it from being shared with anyone else.
CBS — which has in recent years reported extensively on bad raids by the CPD — and Young’s attorneys have remained mum on how the video was made public. In a court filing Wednesday, attorneys for the city called for sanctions against Young’s lawyers, but they also told the judge that “the city intends to release the remaining videos in their entirety, with appropriate redactions related to plaintiff’s privacy.”
Keenan Saulter, one of Young’s attorneys, said the city should move to publicly release all footage of police encounters with civilians. A policy like that, Saulter said, would be helpful to both police and members of the public.
“Release all the videos. Bring light to the issues. Shine the bright light of the public on what the police are doing,” Saulter said. “When the police are right, that will be seen. This is not an attack against all police officers. We all have personal friends who are members of the Chicago Police Department. We respect the job that law enforcement has to do. But with that job comes a responsibility. With that job comes a duty. And with body cameras, if used properly, they protect the officers.”
Though Young’s initial federal lawsuit was dismissed earlier this year, Saulter said he filed a new suit Wednesday related to Young’s previously denied Freedom of Information Act request.
Contributing: Madeline Kenney