Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is announcing steps her administration will take to rebuild trust with Chicagoans after last week’s controversial handling of the video release of the botched police raid of a Black woman’s home.
The raid at what turned out to be the wrong address happened in 2019, but the footage was made public by CBS Chicago last week — even as the city’s law department tried to squash it. The woman, Anjanette Young, had to file a freedom of information request to get the video of her arrest.
Late Friday, the law department dropped legal action it was pursuing against Young’s lawyer and CBS Chicago .
“Last week, people, and particularly Black people not [just] here in Chicago but really across the country, feel angry and feel violated,” Lightfoot said Monday. “I also feel more motivated than ever. Now is the time for action.”
The city’s top lawyer, Mark Flessner, resigned over the weekend after the mayor called the law department’s attempt to quash the video “a colossal mistake.” Lightfoot has appointed Celia Meza as acting Corporation Counsel while her office looks for a permanent replacement to head the law department
Lightfoot said all footage related to the wrongful search of Young’s home will be made public. She’s also requesting a “top to bottom” review of the law department to determine why Young’s FOIA request was denied.
She’s also requesting a full review of all pending search warrant cases. Last week, Lightfoot announced a new policy that entitles victims full access to police footage related to their arrest.
All officers involved in the wrongful raid of Young’s home have been put on desk duty pending an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, Lightfoot added.
“We must respect COPA’s independence,” Lightfoot said, “But as I repeatedly told COPA’s chief administrator [Sydney Roberts], I firmly believe in the value that justice delayed is justice denied.”
“And, frankly, there is no excuse that this matter has languished for a year without any significant movement on the part of COPA,” the mayor added. “We all need to understand the particulars of why Ms. Young’s house was targeted. What happened while the officers were there. And, importantly, what happened afterwards, once they knew and it became clear that they were in the wrong house.”
For its part, the Chicago City Council will be holding a hearing Tuesday morning on the Young raid, as well as the Police Department’s policies on search warrants in general.
Public Safety Chairman and 29th Ward Ald. Chris Taliaferro, a former police sergeant, will lead the hearing. He joined the mayor Monday afternoon, along with Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th Ward.
“It’s unconscionable that once again we’re faced with a video that really does not go with the goals, the morals of our police department, or the goals and morals of our city,” Taliaffero said, adding that as a husband and the father of two adult daughters, he can “categorically say” what CPD did to Young the night they entered her home was “completely wrong.”
“Our department serves under the motto, ‘To protect and to serve,’ and to Ms. Young that motto means nothing,” he added.
Claudia Morell covers city politics for WBEZ. You can follow her on Twitter @claudiamorell.