CHICAGO — Anjanette Young, the social worker who was handcuffed and left to stand naked while members of the Chicago Police Department conducted a raid at the wrong home, is suing the department, the City of Chicago and the 12 officers involved in the debacle.
Police body-camera footage of the February 2019 raid shows 12 male officers bursting into Young’s home as she prepared for bed. Despite being naked and not matching the description of the suspect, Young was handcuffed nude, or partially nude, for 40 minutes as she pleaded over 43 times to the officers she was innocent and they were at the wrong home.
The incident gained national attention in December when CBS2 Chicago aired videos of the raid the news station obtained from Young’s attorney, Keenan Saulter.
Saulter got the footage through a court order as part of a federal lawsuit he filed on behalf of Young but was later withdrawn. Since December, Saulter has said he would file a new lawsuit in state court.
CBS2 first reported the 46-page lawsuit was filed Friday with the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The nine-count lawsuit alleges officers violated Young’s civil rights on the night of the incident and city officials, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, engaged in a conspiracy and coverup to deny the release of footage of the incident.
On Monday, the city’s Law Department issued a statement saying they department had yet to be served with the lawsuit.
“We have communicated our commitment to an equitable and expeditious resolution which will allow Ms. Young’s path toward healing to continue. The City has asked Mr. Saulter, counsel to Ms. Young, to participate in mediation and we are awaiting a response. Mayor Lightfoot remains committed to ensuring that events like those experienced by Ms. Young do not happen to any other Chicago resident,” the statement read.
Lightfoot initially claimed she first learned of the raid through the news station’s December coverage, but backtracked days later, admitting her staff alerted her to the raid over a year earlier by email.
The Mayor’s Office later released select emails showing Lightfoot was first sent a detailed description of the “pretty bad wrongful raid” — including the fact Young was handcuffed naked — on November 11, 2019, as her staff scrambled to respond to a pending Freedom of Information Act demand that Young filed seeking the videos, and an upcoming news report from CBS2.
Friday’s lawsuit details those emails, claiming they show the “beginning of the conspiracy and cover up between the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Office of Police Accountability and the Mayor’s Office.”
News of the raid, including the city’s Law Deparment’s failed attempt to block CBS2 from airing the video, kicked off a tumultuous period at City Hall, leading to the resignation of the city’s top attorney, Mark Flessner. His top deputy and the Law Department’s spokeswoman followed him out the door a day later.
Lightfoot said she was “blindsided” by the decision to attempt to block the footage from airing and vowed a thorough review of the city’s handing of the incident and its aftermath.
Lightfoot and police Supt. David Brown enacted reforms of the department’s search warrant policy and made it easier for victims of police misconduct to access video footage of the incident. More reforms have been promised.
The Chicago Office of Police Accountability, the city’s Inspector General and former federal Judge Ann Claire Williams and her law firm, Jones Day, are all conducting investigations into the raid and the city’s handling of the incident.
Despite the email alerting Lightfoot to the raid — which prompted her to ask for an immediate meeting with top staffers–the mayor insists she never saw video of the raid until the December news report and said she didn’t “have any specific recollection” of the email.
The lawsuit describes the raid in painful detail.
When Young reached for a jacket, the lawsuit alleges officer Joseph Lisciandrello pointed his gun at Young and shouted “let me see your f—— hands.”
“Simply put, she thought at that moment and for nearly the entirety of the next hour that she was going to die in a hail of gunfire at the hands of individuals who ‘allegedly’ were sworn to serve and protect her,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit characterizes the “horribly shoddy police work” that went into the officers conducting the raid based on a confidential source. Had the police done more research, they would have learned the man who’s home they sought to search lived in another apartment nearby and was confined to his home through a court order.
Despite being at the wrong home, even as police Sgt. Alex Wolinski removed the handcuffs from Young’s arms, he apologized but “reiterated that they had ‘good intel,’” the lawsuit says.
Wolinski, along with officer Alain Aporongao began the “conspiracy and coverup between the Chicago Police Department, COPA and the Mayor’s Office” when they walked out of Young’s home upon realizing they may have the wrong house and “purposely make the decision to disconnect their body worn cameras in violation” of CPD policy, the lawsuit alleges.
“Sadly, the conspiracy didn’t end the night of this wrongful invasion into the sanctity of Ms. Young’s home,” it says.
The lawsuit says Lightfoot, CPD, COPA, the Law Department and city employees at the “highest levels became involved in the conspiracy to cover-up these grotesque human rights violations…” listing city officials, including members of Lightfoot’s inner staff and press team that first alerted her to the raid.
The emails show COPA launched its investigation into the raid the same day the Chicago Police Department was first meant to respond to Young’s Freedom of Information Act request for video of the incident. Days later, the police department cited COPA’s investigation as justification to deny turning over the videos.
The nine-count lawsuit includes claims of false imprisonment, false arrest, assault, battery, invasion of privacy, trespassing, reckless infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.
The lawsuit says as result of the forced entry into her home and the officers conduct, she “suffered and continues to suffer injury and harm.”
Brown reprimanded the officers involved, assigning them to desk duty and said at a City Council committee hearing on the incident the officers violated Young’s human rights.
Lightfoot publicly and privately apologized to Young, meeting with her at the end of December after an earlier meeting was canceled when Saulter and a city attorney couldn’t agree over Young’s request that Lightfoot participate in a public forum with aldermen following the private meeting.
After the private meeting, the two issued a joint statement pledging to “identify areas of common ground relating to these issues and to working towards necessary policy changes together.”
At a January 19 rally at her church, Young said she want the police officers and department to be held accountable, saying accountability requires city officials “not shielding officers when they’re in the wrong.”
Though Young said some have asked whether recounting the graphic details of her story adds to her trauma, she said she refuses to be silent.
“I will tell it again today. I will tell it again tomorrow. I will tell it again until no other woman in the city of Chicago is ever treated that way again,” she said.
Saulter and Young could not be immediately reached for comment.
Lightfoot’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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