CHICAGO — The city is no longer taking any legal action against Anjanette Young’s attorney for going public with news of the 2019 botched raid of Young’s home that has rocked City Hall this week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday.
When CBS Chicago aired its story about the raid that falsely targeted Young, it included footage from police body-worn cameras that showed Young handcuffed and naked in her living room during much of the raid.
City attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to block the news station from airing the video and sought sanctions against “the plaintiff” for allegedly providing the video to the station against a court order. Lightfoot said Wednesday she directed city attorneys to make clear with the court they were not seeking any actions against Young, but rather attorney Keenan Saulter for allegedly violating a confidentiality clause related to that case.
Now the mayor says the city is pursuing no action against either of them.
Lightfoot’s office released a statement saying, at the mayor’s direction, Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner filed a motion in court to clear up the city’s position.
“First, the action sought against the CBS2 news station that was filed by the City’s Law Department was a mistake, and I’ve instructed them to formally withdraw our request to the court so that the record reflects this, even though it was previously ruled upon,” the statement read.
“I want to be explicit that at no time did the City ever seek sanctions against Ms. Young and, to remove any doubt, we specifically affirm that no such sanctions were ever sought against her. Moreover, at my direction, the Corporation Counsel will formally move to withdraw sanctions against Attorney Saulter. While we remain concerned that a violation of a court order may have occurred, I believe that we should give Attorney Saulter the benefit of the doubt that he did not appreciate that the court’s confidentiality order continued in full force and effect, even after the voluntary dismissal of the case in March 2020. We urge the court to take no action against Attorney Saulter.
“I again want to reiterate and affirm my commitment to righting the wrongs in this case and moving forward with full transparency and accountability.”
Neither Young nor Saulter have said they provided the video of the raid to the news station.
The news follows an attempt by three members of Chicago’s City Council to force a special meeting of the body next week to urge the city’s law department to drop any action against Young and her attorney, and negotiate a settlement with Young on any pending lawsuits.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th), and Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) filed a letter with the City Clerk’s Office requesting a December 22 meeting of the City Council. The letter first was reported by CBS.
But by Friday evening, the aldermen issued a new letter canceling the meeting following a discussion with the Lightfoot administration. Lopez took to Twitter to say Lightfoot has agreed in “deed and writing” to work towards a settlement with Young.
Lopez told Block Club he’s “glad” Lightfoot’s lawyers dropped the move for sanctions against Young’s attorney. Their resolution called on the city to enter “preemptive” negotiations with Young to “make her whole” through a financial settlement, Lopez said.
“In an extraordinary case like this where we know who the victim is and who the fault lies with, we should be doing everything in our power to settle this as quickly as possible,” he said. “The whole world has seen how Ms. Young was victimized that night, and how she’s been re-victimized time and again by how the city has treated and attacked her and her legal team.”
Lightfoot initially claimed to be unaware of the botched raid until after CBS aired their report. She also said she did not know there was a video or that her attorneys had tried to block CBS from publicizing it.
On Thursday, she reversed herself and said she became “generally” aware of CBS2’s reporting in November 2019. Lightfoot said her team emailed her about the raids, including the one on Young’s home, and Lightfoot replied by telling them they should talk about the issue with the city’s chief risk officer.
“My team knew that this was an issue of great concern for me — lifted up to me,” Lightfoot said. “… I don’t have any specific recollection of it … but it was flagged for me, and I repeat again that the first time I actually saw the video itself was Tuesday morning … .”
Those emails will be made public, Lightfoot said.
Saulter said Young received the video as part of a federal lawsuit they filed but later withdrew. He said they plan to file a new lawsuit against the city of Chicago and the police officers involved, alleging an invasion of privacy and Young’s constitutional right to be protected in her home.
A separate lawsuit was filed Wednesday by attorney Matt Topic of Loevy and Loevy against the police department for its handling of the Freedom of Information Act request Young filed seeking details of the incident, including the body worn cam footage.
Lightfoot did not rule out firing city officials, including Flessner, who were involved in the raid or the attempt to block the video from being published, saying she had been “unsparing in her comments to all involved in this colossal mess.”
A hearing on the Police Department’s search warrant procedures has already been scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. in a joint meeting in the Committee on Public Safety and Committee on Health and Human Relations.