Lightfoot’s Handling of Botched Anjanette Young Raid Represents ‘Failure’ of Government: Watchdog

Anjanette Young and her attorney Keenan Saulter speak outside the James R. Thompson Center on June 16, 2021. (Matt Masterson / WTTW News)Anjanette Young and her attorney Keenan Saulter speak outside the James R. Thompson Center on June 16, 2021. (Matt Masterson / WTTW News)

Former Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s probe of the botched raid in February 2019 that left Anjanette Young handcuffed while naked and pleading for help uncovered a nearly complete failure of city government that was “exceedingly harmful,” to Young, according to a report released Friday.

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An eight-page summary of the 163-page report faulted Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials for making “a troubling series of unfounded statements.” Lightfoot has repeatedly refused to release the full report.

Ferguson left office three months ago after Lightfoot declined to re-appoint him. A search for his successor is ongoing. The summary released Friday was compiled by interim Inspector General William Marback and released as part of the office’s quarterly report.

The unreleased report attempts to tell the “full story — thoroughly documented and sourced — of how the city’s government worked to prevent a victim of what was plainly either official misconduct or error from obtaining video proof of the raid on her home, thereby frustrating her efforts to secure redress for the injuries inflicted on her, however unintentionally, by government actors,” according to the summary’s conclusion. “[The Office of the Inspector General’s] investigation revealed a failure of city government that, taken as a whole, adds up to more than a sequence of individual actions by city employees.”

The political firestorm was ignited when CBS2-TV aired video of the raid that showed that Young, an African American social worker who was changing after returning home from work, had been left unclothed by a group of male officers looking for someone else.

The Chicago City Council voted unanimously in December to pay Young $2.9 million to settle the lawsuit she filed alleging mistreatment by members of the Chicago Police Department.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown told members of the Chicago City Council the officers who conducted the raid had violated Young’s human rights. Brown has asked the Chicago Police Board to fire the sergeant who led the raid.

A probe of the raid by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, found evidence that nearly a dozen officers committed nearly 100 acts of misconduct during the search of Young’s home. The inspector general’s report stated that Young’s home was so badly damaged during the raid that they used her “ironing board to partially prop closed her damaged front door.”

None of the officers who were present at the raid, or their supervisors, notified COPA, the agency charged with investigating police misconduct, after Young told officials that she had been mistreated, according to the summary of the report. In addition, members of the Department of Law who learned of the botched raid and Young’s treatment took no action to ensure the incident was investigated, according to the summary of the report.

In the days after the video of Young blanketed the airwaves and dominated newspaper headlines, Lightfoot promised “full transparency,” but the inspector general’s probe found Lightfoot’s conduct and those of several high-ranking officials fell far short of that vow, according to the summary of the report.

Instead, Lightfoot and other city officials “performed a series of governmental actions in a manner that prioritized communications and public relations concerns over the higher mission of city government,” according to the summary of the report.

That led to an “inefficient and wasteful” response to a wrongful and botched raid, according to the summary of the report.

The inspector general’s probe was especially critical of the actions of a former member of the mayor’s press office, whose name is not included in the report, in keeping with the rules that govern the inspector general’s office.

However, the emails referred to in the report were released Dec. 30 2020, and were sent by Pat Mullane, who left the mayor’s press office to become the communications director for U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, a Democrat.

Mullane made “false or unfounded statements” that “feigned ignorance” about actions taken by other city officials in November 2019 that served to keep video of the raid from being released to the public for more than a year, according to the summary of the report.

Although Mullane told reporters for CBS2 that the footage recorded by body-worn cameras during the raid of Young’s home could not be released because of an ongoing investigation, the probe was launched 11 days after Young’s attorneys submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the footage, according to the summary of the report.

In addition, the mayor’s office released two statements that included false or misleading information even after Lightfoot had to apologize for telling the public that she did not learn about the raid until CBS2’s report. In fact, she was told in detail what happened to Young in November 2019.

Lightfoot asked “detailed questions about the facts and circumstances of the Young wrong raid and any litigation or administrative investigation into the raid” and her staff reached out to several other city officials for answers to the mayor’s questions, according to the summary of the report.

In addition, the inspector general’s probe found that the mayor’s office scripted the opening statement former COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts gave during a City Council committee hearing on the botched raid of Young’s home “creating the appearance of political influence and diminished institutional independence of COPA,” according to the summary of the report.

COPA officials rejected that conclusion, saying that “none of these exchanges involved substantive or confidential information about the investigation, or in any way evinced attempts to influence or compromise its integrity.”

In addition, Roberts erroneously told members of the City Council that COPA had notified officials as required that its investigation had been open longer than six months.

Roberts resigned in May, one of 20 officials involved in the response to the botched raid of Young’s home who have left the city.

The summary of the inspector general’s report also faults members of the city’s Department of Law for engaging in “conduct unbecoming city employees.”

It was former Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner who agreed to ask a judge to block CBS2 from airing video of the raid of Young’s home and to ask a judge to sanction Young and her attorney for providing the video to CBS2. Flessner resigned under pressure from Lightfoot on Dec. 20, 2020, according to the summary of the probe.

Despite conducting nearly “three dozen interviews, reviewing thousands of emails, numerous records from FOIA requests, court filings and transcripts, and public reporting and commentary” the inspector general’s office said its probe was ultimately stymied by Lightfoot’s decision to tap the Jones Day law firm to conduct a probe of the raid and its aftermath.

That probe concluded that Lightfoot did not purposefully conceal information.

The mayor’s office “interposed an outside law firm to perform the very work for which the inspector general function exists,” according to the conclusion of the report summary. “The majority of the individuals interviewed by [the Office of the Inspector General] during the investigation reported that they had been previously interviewed by Jones Day attorneys. However, counsel for the city objected to any questions regarding the content of those interviews and instructed witnesses not to answer.”

That is the reason the inspector general’s report makes no recommendation of discipline for any city employee, according to the report summary.

“Given these intractable complications, [the Office of the Inspector General] determined it would not be prudent or fair to make findings of individual violations and to recommend discipline, according to the report summary.

In its response included in the report released Friday by the inspector general’s office, Lightfoot was critical of the conduct of the probe.

Lightfoot told “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 22 that the interim inspector general should investigate his office’s handling of a probe of errors made by the Chicago Police Department when serving search warrants and raiding Chicago homes. Those sentiments were reflected in the official response.

“The fact that the [the Office of the Inspector General] has opined about the conduct of other departments, but not itself undermines the legitimacy of the [the Office of the Inspector General] and work on this matter and we fear, other important [the Office of the Inspector General] work.”

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.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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