By Dave Savini, Samah Assad, Michele Youngerman
CHICAGO (CBS) — Anjanette Young, the innocent woman who was handcuffed naked by the Chicago Police Department, is suing the city and officers involved in the botched raid that sparked national outcry.
The lawsuit filed in state court late Friday signifies the city's failure to expeditiously reach a settlement with Young, something Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city lawyers previously committed to.
The mayor's office said the Law Department will review Young's lawsuit when it is served to the city.
"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," the city said in a statement. "Mayor Lightfoot remains committed to ensuring that events like those experienced by Ms. Young do not happen to any other Chicago resident. The Mayor's Executive Order that creates a standard, straightforward process for release of materials, including video recordings, to complainants alleging police misconduct, signed on February 5, 2021 is one of many steps that the City has taken to change process and procedures. The work remains ongoing."
It was February 2019 when officers wrongly burst into Young's home. They had failed to investigate a tip from a confidential informant who gave them bad information. Officers could have easily tracked the correct location of the suspect they were looking for, CBS 2's check of public records found. The man lived next door and was on electronic monitoring for a previous charge. Instead, police acted solely on the word of the informant.
Body camera video obtained and aired by CBS 2 in December revealed the moments officers broke down Young's door and pointed their guns at her. She was in the middle of changing her clothes and completely naked.
The male officers, whose body cameras were rolling, didn't immediately allow her to get dressed. Instead, they handcuffed her.
"What is going on?" Young yelled in the video. "There's nobody else here, I live alone. I mean, what is going on here? You've got the wrong house. I live alone."
The video also captured how officers treated Young. They would not allow her to get dressed until about 13 minutes after they entered her home. Police left her in handcuffs for nearly 20 minutes. Young told police at least 40 times they were in the wrong place.
"Tell me what's going on," she cried in the video.
"You've got the wrong house, you've got the wrong house, you've got the wrong house," Young repeated.
"There's no one else who lives in this apartment?" the sergeant asked.
"No, no one else lives here," Young said.
A police sergeant "can be seen and heard improperly directing officers under his command to turn their body cameras off for the purpose of discussing whether the officers were in the wrong home, as Ms. Young had repeatedly advised them that they were," the complaint states.
"Young continues to suffer from mental and emotional anguish as a result of the reckless conduct of the Defendant and these officers," the documents states.
These images of Young – vulnerable, bound by handcuffs and begging police for answers – ignited national calls for search warrant reforms, likening the raid to the one that led to Breonna Taylor's death in Louisville.
City officials also came under fire after they fought in federal court Dec. 14, hours before CBS 2 aired the video, in a failed attempt to kill the story. CBS 2 aired it anyway, and as the story broadcast, a judge ruled against the city's request.
CBS 2 first interviewed Young and reported on the raid in November 2019 but did not have the video because police denied CBS 2's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Police also denied Young's request for the video.
"I feel like they didn't want us to have this video because they knew how bad it was," Young said. "They knew they had done something wrong. They knew that the way they treated me was not right."
At that time, she filed a federal lawsuit against the city and police, which her attorney later withdrew and refiled in state court Friday.
The lawsuit comes after months of fallout and sharp criticism aimed at city officials for how they handled the case, which is also now the subject of an investigation by the Chicago Inspector General.
Lightfoot first denied knowing about the video, despite CBS 2 alerting her office about it last year. Lightfoot also claimed in a news conference the city did not deny Young's FOIA request for the video. CBS 2 challenged Lightfoot on that issue, having seen Young's request.
CBS 2's reporting – and the national condemnation of the raid as a result – also pressured Lightfoot to release hundreds of emails between her staff from the last two years. The emails revealed what CBS 2 previously reported – Lightfoot was aware of the raid and disturbing video. But instead of addressing the raid itself, the emails from 2019 show how her staff and police attempted to block the release of the video and focused on minimizing the negative press.
Late December, Lightfoot and Young met in person. A joint statement did not give specific details about what was discussed, but said, in part, they "...had a lengthy, very candid and productive conversation about the unacceptable raid on Ms. Young's house and her pain."
Young is among dozens of innocent people and families who CBS 2 found were victims of wrongful Chicago Police raids. She is also among the growing group of people who filed lawsuits against the city, leaving taxpayers on the hook for a pattern of problems CPD has failed to systematically address.
From a legal standpoint, Lightfoot previously said in a news conference she directed her law department to "get that case resolved."
"If there are wrongs that need to be righted, we are going to do just that," she also said, speaking generally about wrong raids. "We're not going to string these cases out, we're not going to run up attorneys fees. If we were in the wrong, we are going to own it and make sure that those wrongs are corrected with all deliberate speed."
With the refiling of Young's lawsuit, that doesn't appear to have happened in her case.
While CPD made some changes to its search warrant policy in January 2020 in response to CBS 2's reporting, these changes haven't stopped officers from violating the rules. CBS 2 uncovered two new wrong raids that happened just months after the new policy was put into effect.
At the time CBS 2 aired the body camera video in December, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability was still in the process of interviewing all of the officers involved in the raid on Young's home as part a more than year-long investigation into the incident.
The officers were taken off the streets and placed on desk duty – only after CBS 2 aired the video nearly two years after it happened. In the majority of wrong raids CBS 2 uncovered, officers have not been disciplined.
In January, attorneys in the consent decree hauled the city back to federal court, saying wrong raids like the one on Young's home are unconstitutional and violate the decree. They also said the city has failed to respond to their demands for reforms.
They attorneys filed a motion that cited disturbing body camera video unearthed by CBS 2, showing officers pointed guns at and interrogated children in another wrong raid – just one example of dozens of previous incidents CBS 2 exposed.
Similar to those raids, body camera video was critical in exposing what happened to Young.
"It's one of those moments where I felt I could have died that night," Young said. "Like if I would have made one wrong move, it felt like they would have shot me. I truly believe they would have shot me."
She said it was "surreal" watching the body camera video of what happened to her nearly two years later.
"It's almost like a bad movie," Young said. "I feel like I'm watching a movie, but those are no actors, I'm no actor, but this is my life and it happened to me."
This includes the creation of a system that would track wrong raids like the one on Young's home, which police previously would not commit to doing.
Brown also promised to improve the department's search warrant policy to require an independent police investigation of tips from informants.
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