Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot admitted on Thursday that she had known about the botched police raid on Anjanette Young’s home for more than a year, despite previously saying she was only made aware of the February 2019 incident this week.
At a news conference alongside Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, the mayor backtracked from her claim a day earlier that she was first informed this week about police barging into Young’s home last year, entering the wrong address, and then handcuffing her and questioning her while she was naked and in distress. Chicago’s WBBM-TV released bodycam footage of the incident on Monday, which led to widespread backlash from the public and elected officials against the mayor and the city police department.
Lightfoot said Thursday that her staff has since reminded her that Young’s case, among other botched raids, was brought to her attention in November 2019 ― though she claimed she does not remember it. The mayor still insisted that she did not see the bodycam footage until this week, although Lightfoot’s law department went to federal court on Monday to try to block WBBM from airing the video and to sanction Young for sharing it with the local CBS TV station.
“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,” Lightfoot said.
“Again, I don’t have any specific recollection of it,” she said. “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.”
The mayor also admitted that she was wrong when she said Wednesday that Young never filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain bodycam footage of the raid that left the Black social worker humiliated and traumatized. Young’s FOIA request was filed on Nov. 1, 2019, and was denied by the Chicago Police Department on Nov. 19, 2019. A judge ordered the city to give Young the footage after she filed a FOIA lawsuit in December 2019.
Young’s attorney, Keenan Saulter, told HuffPost his client was disappointed that the mayor suggested on Wednesday that the city never denied her request to obtain video of police mistreating her. Saulter said the city denied Young’s FOIA request due to an ongoing investigation by the independent Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which he alleged has not interviewed any of the officers involved in the raid.
“Anytime a victim wants information about the matter involving them … we’ve got to be more responsive and do a better job, and we’re going to do that,” Lightfoot said on Thursday. “Anytime a person who’s a victim requests information about an incident that happened to them, our government’s obligation is to respond in a fulsome, transparent and immediate way.”
Brown, speaking about the bodycam footage for the first time, said that the video was difficult to watch and that it should not have taken police so long to allow Young to cover herself up during the mistaken raid.
“If that was your mother, how would you want her to be treated? You don’t train that in an academy. We hire people who we think know right from wrong, and if they don’t know right from wrong, they don’t need to be police officers,” the police chief said. “It’s not complicated. Treat everyone with respect. Everyone deserves a measure of respect. … Even if we had been in the right house, Ms. Young should have been treated with respect.”
Young was undressing when heavily armed officers broke down her door and raided her home on Feb. 21, 2019, just months before Lightfoot took office. Police handcuffed Young while she told them dozens of times that they were in the wrong home. They did not believe her until they realized the person they were looking for lived in the apartment next door.
The mayor has apologized for the botched raid, saying she was horrified by the video. She also said she has reached out to Saulter to ask if she can speak directly with Young about the incident.
It feels like “we’re talking to each other at podiums and press conferences,” Lightfoot said. “I’d like to have that conversation with her in person, and I will see whether or not my request is granted.”
Lightfoot said Thursday that she has told her legal department to give her a review of all pending search warrant cases. She also said she’s ordered a review of the city’s video release policy so that footage from cases of potential police misconduct can be released sooner. She called on state lawmakers to change Illinois’s bodycam law to give more flexibility on what kinds of video can be made public.
Saulter said that Young wants accountability for the raid on her home, as well as for similar incidents that have happened to many others over the last several years.
“We are hopeful that Mayor Lightfoot’s pledge today to work towards greater accountability and transparency are followed by the diligent and difficult work to make that change take place,” Saulter said.