CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Wednesday released page after page of staff emails and other documents related to the city’s response to the botched police raid in which Anjanette Young was handcuffed naked in her home, dating back from when CBS 2 first began reporting on her case in November 2019.
The documents make clear that Mayor Lightfoot was informed of the raid back in November 2019. But no action was taken at that time.
“Mayor Lightfoot has been and remains committed to full transparency surrounding the police raid on Anjanette Young’s home and all subsequent actions and activity, as well as identifying all other victims and righting wrongs,” the Mayor’s office said in a statement. “The raid at Ms. Young’s home took place on February 21, 2019 – three months prior to Mayor Lightfoot taking office. Nonetheless, the Mayor has made clear that there must be full accountability for the actions of all involved in the incident as well as the City’s response.”
Stunning body camera video of the raid was first brought to light by CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini earlier this month. It shows Young standing handcuffed, naked, after police broke down her door and pointed guns at her.
In addition to the email release from the Mayor’s office Wednesday night, police Supt. David Brown released two more body camera videos from the raid at Young’s home that we hadn’t seen. Also included was the incident original report that shows officers never documented handcuffing an innocent woman naked for 13 minutes.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, all these materials also show the city and the Chicago Police Department fought to bury this story, and the body camera video that proved it.
Mayor Lightfoot first promised transparency after CBS 2 broke the Anjanette Young story, CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported.
And then on Wednesday – the eve of New Year’s Eve – after 3 p.m., her office dumped more than 150 pages of raid-related emails and documents on us.
The body camera video of a naked Young pleading with police as she is handcuffed has been difficult for the world to watch. The story then turned to the cover-up, and the attempt to stop Young and us from seeing the video of the raid.
Once CBS 2 got the video, the city went to federal court to try to stop us from airing it.
The documents released Wednesday paint a clearer picture of who knew what, and when.
The City Hall emails also actually commend the denial of our request for the bodycam video in Young’s case. The emails further show an attempt to spin the narrative on wrong raids, which CBS 2 has been reporting on for four years.
Mayor Lightfoot insisted that she did not know about the raid until we aired the body camera video earlier this month. Soon afterward, she made a full about-face from her podium at City Hall.
But at 9:07 a.m. Nov. 11, 2019, Mayor’s office Communications Director Michael Crowley asks if “MLL” (Mayor Lori Lightfoot) is “aware of this incident and situation,” and one minute later, Deputy Mayor Susan Lee replies: “I told her there was a bad incident but did not go into details. Please forward info or do you want me to?”
At 9:15 a.m. the same day, Lee writes to the mayor and others about a “pretty bad wrongful raid coming out tomorrow. Media FOIA was denied and victim FOIA request is in the works.”
“FOIA” stands for Freedom of Information Act, the law that requires the government to release public documents.
At 9:49 a.m., the mayor writes to four of her closest advisors, including the then-Deputy Mayor: “I have a lot of questions about this one. Can we do a quick call about it?”
Staffer Michael Classen replied, “I can join, let’s use my call in.”
In later emails, Tamika Puckett, the city’s Chief Risk Officer, apologizes for missing the call because she was stuck at the airport.
Here is what we know happened that day 13 months ago for Mayor Lightfoot – she attended Veterans Day events, and was part of a minimum wage meeting and some short video sessions.
She spent 45 minutes preparing for a City Council meeting.
On Dec. 3, 2019, the mayor forwarded a link to a CBS 2 Investigators story from one of her email accounts to another. The subject line referred to CBS 2’s wrong raids stories and the reaction by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
The web copy for that story includes the sentence: “Guns have been pointed at children, a woman was held in handcuffs naked, and innocent families have been left traumatized when officers fail to verify addresses.”
The mayor then forwards that link to several top advisors 11 minutes later: “FYI. Where are we on a new protocol for the execution of search warrants?” Once again, she references one of our wrong raid stories – which this year she had trouble recollecting.
Emails also show the mayor was concerned about the negative light two years of wrong raid coverage by CBS 2 might be casting on the city. In an email from Jan. 13 of this year regarding new search warrant policy changes, a staffer wrote: “Following the recent negative coverage the department has had on search warrants/wrong raids, MLL wants some placed stories around the new policy announcement.”
Other emails show the city was ready to honor Young’s public records request and give her the body camera video of her raid – that is, until the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, put a stop to it – citing a “pending investigation.”
The documents also reveal the city and Chicago Police sought at every turn to block the release of body cam video for more than a year. One email notes the city was set to release the video in November 2019, after our original story about the raid.
But the Civilian Office of Police Accountability opened an investigation as a result of our story, which was then used to deny the video.
The CPD’s Legal Department wrote on Nov. 18, 2019: “The numerous body camera worn videos associated with the request are already redacted, according to Sergeant Edwards. However, given COPA’s response, we would like to confer with you before a final decision is made.”
Adding insult, records show Young’s claim to have her front door fixed after officers busted it down was denied. The claim was closed because it was classified as a lawful search.
A day after apologizing to Young for the raid, Lightfoot admitted on Thursday, Dec. 17 that she was wrong when she said one day earlier she was first informed of Young’s case only that week, even though the raid itself happened in February 2019, and CBS 2 first began reporting on her case in November 2019.
Although the mayor had maintained she didn’t see video of the raid until the week our story aired, Lightfoot said her staff had later informed her that Young’s case and other wrong raids were brought to her attention in November of 2019. However, she said she on Dec. 17 that she didn’t have any recollection of that.
“What I now know, having looked at some emails, is my team knew that this was an issue of great concern for me, issues meaning about the search warrants. They knew that I had tasked our chief risk officer to look into this and to work on reforming the policy, so this was lifted up to me as yet another example,” she said Dec. 17. “Again, I don’t have any specific recollection of it. It was in November when I was probably focused on budget issues and getting our budget passed through City Council, but it was flagged for me.”
Lightfoot also admitted she was wrong on Wednesday, Dec. 16 when she claimed Young never filed a FOIA request for the video of the raid, and angrily chastised Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt, who asked her why Young’s request had been denied, calling his reporting “reckless and irresponsible.”
On Thursday, Dec. 17, Lightfoot admitted she was wrong about Young filing a FOIA request, and apologized to Pratt for her criticism.
“I can never let my frustrations and my emotions get the better of me, and I think I did yesterday,” she said on Dec. 17.
The mayor said on Dec. 17 that she has ordered a review of Young’s FOIA request to determine why it was denied, and is ordering changes to city policies so that victims like Young don’t have to file such a request for video of themselves.
Meanwhile, the 12 officers involved in the Young raid were placed on desk duty last week – 22 months after the raid, and more than a year after our first story on it aired.
CBS 2’s Chris Tye and Political Investigator Dana Kozlov contributed to this report.
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