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Report says City Hall misled public on Anjanette Young’s case

Anjanette Young

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration misled the press and the public, and failed to notify investigators months after Chicago police officers raided the home of social worker Anjanette Young, according to a recent scathing report by Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The 163-page report also said the city denied Young a public records request, saying it would interfere with an ongoing investigation that had not yet started at the time.

The raid occurred in February 2019, months before Lightfoot took office as Chicago’s first Black female mayor. The raid included a dozen male officers who burst into Young’s home based on false information. They were looking for a man with a gun at that address, but it turned out to be the wrong home.

Young was forced to stand naked in front of the male officers and at one point was handcuffed with no clothes on. In tears, Young pleaded with the officers, telling them repeatedly that they had the wrong home, according to police body cam video.

One officer finally placed a jacket on Young’s shoulders for 13 seconds before she was given a blanket. Young was allowed to get fully dressed after a female officer arrived on the scene 10 minutes into the raid.

In December, the City Council unanimously approved a $2.9 million settlement to Young’s civil suit, following months of intense talks with Young and her attorneys.

CBS2 Chicago broke the story as part of a powerful investigation in 2020 on wrongful raids in Black and Latino neighborhoods by Chicago police.

According to the OIG investigation, city officials misled CBS journalists when they inquired about the case. They told the station that the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) had been investigating the case for months, even though no such investigation was going on in November, 2019.

The OIG report also said the city denied Young’s initial public records request for videos of the raids, saying it would interfere with an ongoing investigation. However, the OIG report said that an investigation did not start until after Young and CBS2 filed Freedom of Information Act requests.

The OIG investigation found that “City government failed to appropriately respond to a victim of a CPD wrong raid, failed to act with transparency in City operations, and performed a series of governmental actions in a manner that prioritized communications and public relations concerns over the higher mission of City government.”

COPA did not complete its investigation until April 2021, more than two years after the raid. That investigation recommended discipline for more than a half-dozen officers.

According to the OIG general summary, the COPA investigation was so late in starting because multiple police leaders, city attorneys and mayoral aides failed to notify COPA like they were supposed to, even though all were aware of potential policy violations.

“OIG’s investigation determined that COPA did not receive notice until the Mayor’s 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 FOIA requests for [body camera] footage,” the summary report reads.

The OIG also sheds light on statements made by Lightfoot’s team regarding her knowledge about the wrongful raid. Lightfoot and her team initially claimed that she had no knowledge of the raid or the video before CBS2 aired its investigation in 2020. After emails emerged showing Lightfoot had been notified about the raid, the mayor admitted she participated in limited discussions about the case but did not remember them.

The OIG report, however, said Lightfoot had a conference call about the case and gave staffers a list of “detailed questions” to answer about the raid and its aftermath.

“Regardless of whether the mayor recalled these conversations or information, the release of a public and declarative denial of any prior knowledge of the Young raid by the Mayor’s press office lacked the appropriate due diligence and fact-checking, and created an incomplete and inaccurate depiction to the public and the media of the City’s prior discussions of the wrong raid,” the report reads.

The OIG report also said Lightfoot’s decision to hire an outside law firm to investigate the raid and its aftermath actually impeded the Inspector General’s investigation and worked to obscure the full truth from the public.

Lightfoot gave a response in the Inspector General’s summary report, where she mentioned about reforms implemented since the raid, including a revision of the CPD search warrant and streamlining the process for obtaining video of one’s interactions with Chicago police.

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