The Chicago City Council is poised to pay a Chicago family $175,000 after officers mistakenly raided their apartment in March 2017 while looking for their neighbor.
The settlement is set for a final vote Wednesday by the full City Council after advancing on a 21-6 vote of the Finance Committee that came after an hourlong debate Monday shaped by the botched raid in February 2019 that left Anjanette Young handcuffed while naked and pleading for help.
Ashanti Franklin and her family sued the city after police officers broke down their door around 6 a.m. on March 23, 2017, looking for Gregory King. The Franklin family lived in apartment No. 2, while King lived in apartment No. 1.
First Assistant Corporation Counsel Renai Rodney told aldermen it was not clear why officers entered the Franklins’ apartment, which was clearly marked with its number, rather than King’s apartment, which was marked as apartment No. 1, and listed in the warrant. King was later arrested.
The lawsuit filed by Franklin alleged that the officers forced her 12-year-old son out of bed at gunpoint, made racist remarks and threatened to shoot a member of the family if they didn’t stop asking questions, Rodney said.
The police officers who took part in the raid denied pointing their guns directly at the Franklin family or making racist or threatening statements, Rodney said. There is no video of the raid, since it occurred before officers on the force were required to wear body cameras.
The officer who broke down the Franklins’ door is appealing a five-day suspension he received in connection with the incident, Rodney said.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward), the chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee and a former Chicago police sergeant, said he thought the settlement would set a “dangerous precedent” by paying so much in a case that did not include an “egregious allegation” of misconduct.
“The actions of the officers in breaching the wrong apartment is indefensible,” Taliaferro said. “There are no defenses to it. It’s cut and dried. They entered the wrong apartment.”
But the payment is excessive, Taliaferro said. The settlement will include attorney’s fees as well as cover the family’s medical bills, which totaled $23,000. Several members were diagnosed after the incidentn with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Taliaferro said those injuries were “subjective.”
Other aldermen seized on the fact that the raid was conducted by a task force that included federal agents as well as Chicago officers, and suggested that the city did not bear all of the liability for the botched raid.
Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward) said he was concerned that the settlement would “open the floodgates” to lawsuits filed by other Chicago residents who have had their homes raided by mistake by the police.
However, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd Ward), a former federal prosecutor, urged her colleagues to approve the settlement and focus on reducing wrongdoing by city employees.
“We’ve just got to bite the bullet,” Smith said.
Several aldermen said they were concerned the city would have no choice but to approve a massive settlement for Young, who sued the city on Friday.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said the officers who raided Young’s home violated her “human rights” and Mayor Lori Lightfoot apologized to Young and said she would work with her “to identify areas of common ground relating to these issues and to working towards necessary policy changes together,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.