A new report from the Chicago Inspector General found the city government failed to respond appropriately to the victim of a wrongful police raid, was not transparent in its operations, and “prioritized communications and public relations concerns over the higher mission of City government.”
In February 2019, Chicago Police raided the home of Anjanette Young expecting to find a felon with a gun, but it was the wrong location. Young was found naked and distraught, screaming “you’ve got the wrong place,” as officers rushed in. One officer handcuffed and covered her, though her front was still exposed, while another eventually brought her a blanket. She remained handcuffed for nearly an hour, according to the report.
Among the documents cited in the report was a December 2020 press release, in which Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she had “no knowledge” of either the incident itself or the existence of the video.
“This statement, one of the Mayor’s first public comments on the Young raid, was untrue —the Mayor had been alerted and had discussed the raid over 13 months before the press release in November 2019,” the report read.
The Mayor’s Office acknowledged the finding roughly two weeks later as they released e-mails showing she was aware of the incident in November 2019. They maintained, however, staff did not give her a detailed briefing at the time about the circumstances involving Young.
Additionally, “numerous” city employees failed to promptly report the incident to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), even after learning the details of the botched raid, the Inspector General found. No complaint was opened until almost nine months later in November 2019.
When asked about any COPA investigation and corresponding body camera footage at the time by CNN affiliate WBBM, a former assistant press secretary with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Office made “false or unfounded statements” when they “falsely suggested” a COPA investigation was opened in August 2019, despite having just acknowledged with senior police and mayoral staff COPA had not been aware of the incident, the report found.
“[The Office of the Inspector General]’s investigation determined that COPA did not receive notice until the Mayors’ Office assistant press secretary reached out to COPA’s public information officer and inquired about Young as part of the City’s response to Young and CBS2’s [WBBM] FOIA [Freedom of Information] requests for BWC [body-worn camera] footage,” the report stated.
In February 2020, a judge ordered the city of Chicago’s Department of Law (DOL) to turn over the body camera footage of the incident to Young’s attorney, the report read. The department then produced 14 videos but “failed to sufficiently follow up to acquire all BWC footage of the raid.”
In December 2020, WBBM aired the footage from the raid and “DOL acknowledged that the City had additional, relevant BWC and dashcam footage from the wrong raid, which had not been disclosed to Young or her attorney,” the report found.
The Inspector General report said its findings involved “nearly three dozen interviews, thousands of emails, numerous records from FOIA requests, court filings and transcripts, and public reporting and commentary.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Office did not provide a comment to CNN on the findings, however, a response was included in the report.
According to the Inspector General, the Mayor’s Office “noted reforms and efforts initiated since the Young raid, including CPD’s implementation of a revised search warrant policy banning the use of no-knock warrants (except in rare and violent situations); an executive order overhauling and streamlining the process for victims of police misconduct to obtain video footage of their interaction.”
A response from the Chicago Police Department also listed in the report noted it has reformed its search warrant processes, and they now require approval by a deputy chief and both a lieutenant and a female officer are on-scene during the execution of the warrant.
Neither Young nor her attorney had a response to CNN’s request for comment regarding the report’s release.
Mayor Lightfoot did not conceal information about the botched raid, independent probe finds
Separate from the Inspector General investigation, retired Judge Ann Claire Williams, a former federal prosecutor, and attorneys with the Jones Day law firm were hired by Lightfoot in 2020 to conduct an independent investigation into the city’s response to the execution of the search warrant at the home of Young on February 21, 2019.
“Our review did not reveal any evidence suggesting that the mayor or any current or former City employee took action with malicious intent to add to Ms. Young’s mistreatment or to otherwise harm her in connection with the city’s response to the search of her home,” the report concluded.
But the review did find, at times, city officials “failed to recognize the seriousness” of what occurred at Young’s home, including the events, which were caught on body camera video, were “undeniably dehumanizing and deeply traumatizing.”
The findings of the investigation came a day after the Chicago City Council unanimously approved a $2.9 million settlement for Young in December 2021. The deal was approved by the council’s finance committee and had the backing of Lightfoot.
Lightfoot released a statement in response to the independent probe, saying Young was “denied her basic dignity as a human being.”
The mayor also said she sat for an extensive interview and gave investigators “full access” to her office and relevant city departments.
The OIG’s report, however, said the Jones Day investigation impeded the Inspector General’s efforts. Many of the people interviewed by the OIG said they had already spoken to Jones Day attorneys and “counsel for the City objected to any questions regarding the content of those interviews and instructed witnesses not to answer,” it read.
“OIG could not examine the parallel evidence and interview reports of the same witnesses who spoke with OIG, could not determine whether undisclosed interviews corroborated or contradicted one another, and could not investigate whether Jones Day adduced additional mitigating or aggravating information separate from the evidence collected by OIG,” it continued.
While the report found that individual actions “sound in violation of the City’s Personnel Rules and CPD Rules and Regulations,” it was issued without “individualized sustained findings of misconduct and without recommending sanctions for individual City employees.”
According to the Office of the Inspector General, the handling of the botched raid was “a failure of City government that, taken as a whole, adds up to more than a sequence of individual actions by City employees.”
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