CHICAGO — Police officers responsible for wrongfully raiding Anjanette Young’s home in 2019 — an incident captured on video and brought to light last week — are being taken off the street, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.
The officers will remain on desk duty while a city watchdog, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, investigates what happened during the raid, Lightfoot said at a news conference. That investigation has already taken more than a year.
“Now, we must respect COPA’s independence, but as I repeatedly told COPA’s chief administrator, I firmly believe in the value that justice delayed is justice denied,” Lightfoot said. “Frankly, there is no excuse that this matter has languished for a year without any significant movement on the part of COPA.
“[Until the investigation is complete,] these officers need to be off the street.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how many officers are being put on desk duty.
The body cameras worn by police during the raid showed at least 12 officers go into Young’s home on an ill-informed search warrant in the evening as Young prepared for bed. She was unable to put on clothes or answer the door before officers barreled through.
Sydney Roberts, head of COPA, previously said the agency opened an investigation in November 2019 and it is “close to conclusion.” Details will be made public in early 2021, she said.
Since CBS Chicago first reported on the raid last week, the mayor has faced increasing scrutiny over how she and other city officials handled it.
The city denied a Freedom of Information Act request from Young when she asked for video of the raid. Young had to fight in court for the video, and the city unsuccessfully tried to block CBS from obtaining and airing the footage. When CBS did air it, the city tried to get the court to punish Young’s attorney.
Lightfoot has now said those actions were wrong, and she knows she and her government have lost the people’s trust.
“Trust with our city, our Police Department and Law Department and, most of all, trust in me has been questioned as the events related to Ms. Anjanette Young and the outrageous search of her home came to light last week,” Lightfoot said. “We have to take action to address the changes to policies and regulations to protect all Chicagoans against any kind of abuse, particularly one in their homes. And to ensure that our city government is as transparent as it can be.”
The city must work to “repair” that trust, Lightfoot said.
As part of that, the city has withdrawn its actions against CBS and Young’s attorney, Lightfoot said. The city will also do a “top-to-bottom review of why Young’s” Freedom of Information Act request was denied, she said.
“Victims like Ms. Young should have full access to materials on matters involving them,” Lightfoot said. “… She should never have had to submit a FOIA in the first place.”
City Council will have a hearing on the issue Tuesday.
There’s already been significant fallout from the controversy. Lightfoot has faced stinging criticism from the public and aldermen.
On Sunday, Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner resigned at Lightfoot’s request. The mayor has not ruled out firing other city officials involved.
Celia Meza will replace Flessner on an acting basis. Lightfoot said she’s charged Meza with leading “with integrity and transparency.”
Late Friday, the mayor revealed the city failed to turn over all of the videos of the raid to Young and her attorney. Sometime in the past week, six previously undisclosed videos were found. They’ve now been put online.
“This is another one of those important inflection moments,” Lightfoot said. “We have an opportunity to right wrongs. But we will be powerless to do any of the things that I and my government envisions, to change the trajectory of this city and the lives of so many, if we don’t have trust, if people don’t believe that we stand with them.”