CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced every officer involved in the wrong raid of Anjanette Young’s home has been placed on desk duty until the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) concludes its investigation of the incident in which officers handcuffed Young while she was naked.
The mayor said the officers were removed from the street at the direction of Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, amid a COPA investigation that has dragged on for more than a year.
Lightfoot said COPA, the watchdog agency that investigates claims of police misconduct, has taken too long to reach a conclusion in Young’s case.
“We must respect COPA’s independence, but as I’ve repeatedly told COPA’s chief administrator, I firmly believe in the value that justice delayed is justice denied, and frankly there is no excuse that this matter has languished for a year without any significant movement on the part of COPA,” she said. “We all need to understand the particulars of why Ms. Young’s house was targeted, what happened while officers were there, and importantly what happened afterward once they knew and it became clear that they were in the wrong house. Until the COPA investigation is complete, these officers need to be off the street, but that investigation needs to be handled and come to a conclusion in an expeditious way.”
The announcement comes one day after Lightfoot sought and accepted the resignation of Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner.
“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 said in a statement on Sunday.
Lightfoot on Monday appointed senior legal adviser Celia Meza as acting Corporation Counsel while the mayor searches for a permanent replacement for Flessner. The mayor said Meza is a fellow former federal prosecutor who has also worked in the city’s Law Department twice before. Most recently, Meza has served as Lightfoot’s counsel and senior ethics adviser.
“We worked together in the U.S. Attorney’s office when we were both assistant U.S. attorneys. She’s a woman I know of impeccable character, and will bring that to her new role as acting Corporation Counsel,” the mayor said.
Flessner is the first city official to be ousted over the city’s handling of Young’s case. Lightfoot had criticized the city’s Law Department for seeking to block CBS 2 from airing video footage of the wrong raid of Young’s home. A federal judge denied that request, and Lightfoot has since said that it was a mistake, though she has denied knowing about the request beforehand.
“To be clear, we do not stop the publication of any news outlet from doing their job. Never should have happened, and will never happen again,” Lightfoot said.
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. Lightfoot called the effort by the Law Department to seek sanctions against Young’s attorney “a colossal mistake.”
The mayor said, had she been advised of the move beforehand, she never would have allowed the Law Department to seek sanctions.
Young said she wanted the body camera video to show the public what happened to her that day. But when she filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the video last year, the police department denied it. The department also denied a similar FOIA request by CBS 2. Lightfoot said she has ordered a top-to-bottom review of why Young’s FOIA request was denied, and has said she will be seeking reforms to make sure victims do not have to make such formal requests of video footage of themselves.
“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.
“We will right the wrongs inflicted on Ms. Young and the wrongs inflicted on many others like her,” Lightfoot said Monday afternoon.
Meantime, on Tuesday, the City Council Committee on Public Safety and Committee on Health and Human Relations plan to hold a public hearing on Tuesday on CPD’s search warrant policies in response to the Young case.
Seven aldermen sent Lightfoot a letter Monday requesting she personally appear at the hearing. However, Lightfoot said “I think the aldermen have it covered.”
“This is going to be a very comprehensive subject matter hearing, and I’m happy to answer any questions as I have been doing every day this week about any and all issues related to this incident,” she said, referring to the repeated press conferences she has held since CBS 2 first aired the video of the raid of Young’s home.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said what officers and the department did in Young’s case “is completely wrong.”
“Like Mayor Lightfoot, my colleagues, and many of you across this great city, I too am outraged at how within the span of little over an hour, one of our residents, Ms. Young, was stripped of her dignity and stripped of her respect,” he said.
Taliaferro said aldermen are committed to taking action and holding those responsible for what happened accountable.
“For that reason, and many others, we will be having a top-to-bottom legislative hearing tomorrow at 11 o’clock to find out how we could better serve the residents of the city of Chicago,” he said. “Our department serves under the motto ‘To Protect and To Serve,’ and for Ms. Young, that motto means nothing, because when it came to Ms. Young and many others in this city, that seems to be a cry that is never heard in our Black community to protect and to serve. Our department needs to get back to protecting and serving the residents of this great city.”
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