The city’s response to the botched police raid in February 2019 that left Anjanette Young handcuffed while naked and pleading for help left the social worker “revictimized,” the city’s former watchdog told WTTW News’ Chicago Tonight.
The last official action Inspector General Joseph Ferguson took before leaving office Friday was to send Mayor Lori Lightfoot his 163-page report that documents what happened after CBS2-TV aired video of the raid that showed that Young had been left unclothed by a group of male officers looking for someone else, touching off a political firestorm.
“What it found was Anjanette Young was a victim, and a victim of official conduct,” Ferguson said, noting that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the city agency charged with probing Chicago Police misconduct, found evidence that nearly a dozen officers committed nearly 100 acts of misconduct during the botched raid. “And then she was victimized again by just about every single aspect of city government that touched her.”
Ferguson said what happened to Young is emblematic of how Chicago officials treat those who suffer at the hands of the Chicago Police Department and the city.
“We’ve revictimized her,” Ferguson said.
City lawyers played “hide the ball” and then were “snarky” when Young demanded that the department provide her with the video of the incident taken by the officers so she could sue the city, Ferguson said. That suit is still pending.
In the aftermath of the outrage over the raid of Young’s home, the Chicago Police Department revised their search warrant policies, and added a requirement that bureau chiefs sign off on any no-knock warrants. In addition, the city will now release video footage of an incident with police to those involved without requiring them to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
The mayor’s office, the Chicago Police Department, the Department of Law, and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability have 30 days to respond to the report. Interim Inspector General William Marback “will incorporate any such replies” in the office’s next quarterly report, according to a statement from the office.
Even though Lightfoot pledged to cooperate fully with the inspector general’s report, the mayor did not fulfill that promise, Ferguson said.
“We didn’t get full cooperation,” Ferguson said.
Instead, at Lightfoot’s request, retired Judge Ann Claire Williams and the law firm Jones Day are to conduct an outside investigation into the raid and the conduct of the mayor’s office, the city’s Law Department and the police department.
Neither Williams nor Jones Day has spoken publicly about that probe or when it will be complete, and complicated Ferguson’s probe by invoking attorney-client privilege in response to queries by investigators, the former watchdog said.
Even though Lightfoot campaigned for mayor in 2019 on promises to root out corruption at City Hall by increasing transparency, she has fallen short, Ferguson said.
“It has gone in the opposition direction, quite frankly,” Ferguson said. “It is incredibly disappointing.”
A search is ongoing for a permanent replacement for Ferguson, who leaves office after serving as the city’s watchdog for 12 years.
In a September letter to members of the City Council brimming with frustration that no action was taken in July or August, Ferguson said the process to replace him and the deputy inspector general for public safety in the “best of all worlds will take three to four months from initiation.”
The ability of Lightfoot to pick an interim inspector general was due to “one of those gaps in the law,” but acknowledged that it was her prerogative to pick someone to replace him while the search continues, Ferguson said, adding that he was glad he chose someone from the office itself.
Ferguson said the mayor declined his offer to select an interim inspector general.
Ferguson also told members of the Chicago City Council that Lightfoot did not offer to reappoint him to a fourth four-term term in office.
A 21-year veteran of the office of the inspector general, Marback’s selection surprised several members of the Chicago City Council, who had expected Deborah Witzburg, the deputy inspector general for public safety, the No. 2 official in the inspector general’s office, to serve as the city’s watchdog at least on an interim basis.
In a statement to WTTW News, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Marback’s appointment was designed to ensure a “smooth transition.” The mayor praised Marback as “a career attorney with a proven track record of unbiased and effective service.”
Four days after Lightfoot published an opinion column in the Chicago Tribune that praised Ferguson and said he “raised the standards and expertise of the office,” Lightfoot struck a much different tone in response to a question about Ferguson’s departure.
“Who?” Lightfoot asked, twice, when Ferguson’s name was mentioned.
The next inspector general should “understand the importance of staying in their lane,” Lightfoot said, adding that the new watchdog should complete probes much more quickly than Ferguson did.
“We’re looking forward to the future,” Lightfoot said.
However, Ferguson said he would stay involved in the civic life of Chicago.
“I now know a heck of a lot about how things work, and things aren’t working well,” Ferguson said. “I intend to use my knowledge to actually try to elevate the level and sophistication of the conversation about solutions.”