CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s top lawyer, Mark Flessner, has resigned over the Anjanette Young wrong raid scandal, first brought to light by a CBS 2 investigation.
“Today I offered my letter of resignation to Mayor Lori Lightfoot,” Flessner wrote, in part, in a statement released to CBS 2. “There has recently been a great deal of attention drawn to the 2019 raid of Anjanette Young’s home. Monday was the first involvement that I had with the case surrounding Anjanette Young, pertaining to the video footage that was obtained by police. It is clear that the raid of Anjanette Young’s home was a tragedy that we must learn from.”
Flessner, who served as corporation counsel for the city, announced his resignation Sunday. Flessner was previously a partner at the firm Holland & Knight and was a federal prosecutor in Chicago for 12 years, according to the city’s website.
On Friday, the city’s Law Department dropped a motion seeking sanctions against the attorney for Young, after CBS 2 obtained video of a police raid in which Young was handcuffed naked as police wrongly searched her home.
Resignation starting at the top at city hall over Anjanette Young scandal! Trib Pratt also on the case after we exposed it all this week! Law Dept #AnjanetteYoung #unwarranted @CBSThisMorning @cbschicago https://t.co/ODvgFBoKg4
— Dave Savini CBS (@davesavinicbs2) December 20, 2020
“I feel like they didn’t want us to have this video because they knew how bad it was,” Young said. “They knew they had done something wrong. They knew that the way they treated me was not right.”
It was a stunning reversal after the city faced withering criticism over how it handled the case. Originally, the city tried to block CBS 2 from airing a news report on the video and sought sanctions against Young and her attorney, Keenan Saulter. The city argued Saulter and CBS 2 were violating a confidentiality agreement with the court. The judge ruled in favor of CBS, which was not party to the order, but issued no opinion on the sanctions.
In its new filing, the city said it never intended to seek sanctions against Young, only her attorney. They are now dropping that request. The city said seeking to block a news organization from reporting a story “was a mistake and we formally withdraw that request to the court even though the court has previously ruled on that motion.”
The filing, which was signed by Flessner, said the law department was “very concerned that a violation of a court order had occurred.”
On Friday afternoon, the CBS 2 Investigators exposed six new body camera videos the city failed to turn over to Young.
One of those body cams that was withheld shows the first officer through the door, who points a high-powered rifle at the innocent woman. Young had just gotten undressed after a long week of work and was changing into pajamas when the raid team burst in.
The newly-released video is significant, since it shows the pointing of a gun at an innocent person – a use of force
After CBS 2 asked all day why those videos were concealed, late Friday night the mayor’s office admitted it was a failure and promised those responsible would be held accountable.
In a statement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “I again want to reiterate and affirm my commitment to righting the wrongs in this case and moving forward with full transparency and accountability.”
In a one-on-one interview on Thursday, Mayor Lightfoot had said she never saw the body cam videos of the Young raid, even though the CBS 2 investigators informed her office about them in November 2019.
She now vows a full investigation.
Savini: “You know people saw this video in your administration. Does that make you wonder why you didn’t know about it?”
Lightfoot: “It makes me angry that I didn’t know about it. It makes me angry that decisive action wasn’t taken. People saw this video. They watched it.”
Savini: “People in your administration.”
Savini: “People that you trust.”
Lightfoot: “Correct, well, people in my administration saw this – whether it was the Police Department, the Law Department, (the Civilian Office of Police Accountability) – they saw the video, and someone should’ve acted. Someone should have raised it to my level – ‘Look at this video.’ And that didn’t happen.”
The mayor also said the Law Department headed by Flessner, as well as her administration, would be the subject to a top-to-bottom review.
Savini: “It was just so hard to see the city law office threatened CBS with an emergency motion.”
Lightfoot: “And I’ve been very clear about that. That should never have happened. You’re doing your job. And part of legitimacy in government means transparency. And as I said to the Law Department today, in writing and orally, the media plays an important role in our government to hold us accountable; to make sure that there is transparency – and had I known about it, it never would’ve happened. I would’ve stopped it right in its tracks. It was the wrong thing to do. I’ve made that abundantly clear. I can’t imagine a set of circumstances where I’d ever approve that again, but it can never happen without my prior written consent. If for some reason it ever would – and it better not – I will fire everyone involved. I will not hesitate.”
And on Sunday, Flessner resigned.
Lightfoot released the following statement regarding his resignation:
Earlier today, I accepted the resignation of Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner effective immediately. I want to thank him for his service to the City of Chicago. I am committed to a full review of everything that occurred surrounding this incident, will take corrective action where appropriate, and will hold people accountable.
After CBS 2 first broke the story Monday, it ignited calls for police reform across the city and country. Three aldermen signed a letter calling for a special City Council meeting to consider ordering the Law Department to halt any efforts against Young or her attorneys after video of the wrong raid of her home was leaked, and to seek a settlement in the case. The aldermen canceled the meeting after learning of the Law Department’s actions and assurances that the city will work quickly to resolve the case.
Also Sunday, a group of prominent pastors and community leaders demanded accountability after CBS 2 broke the Young story last week.
At a news conference Friday, the group called for people to step down. On Sunday afternoon, the Rev. Ira Acree said he hopes more changes are on the way.
“This is a great step one. This is a great first move in this jigsaw puzzle of resolutions, because there’s so many problems; there’s so many angels to this story,” Acree said.
He also wants to see action taken against the police officer involved in the botched raid on Young’s home.
Meanwhile, Young and her attorney are planning to refile a lawsuit against the city in state court on Monday. While the administration is under investigation, we know of no one in the Chicago Police Department who has been disciplined for their role in this very wrong and botched, humiliating raid.
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