Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago has apologized to a social worker who was handcuffed while she was naked after police officers who were executing a search warrant burst into her apartment with a battering ram last year.
The officers broke down the door to Anjanette Young’s apartment on Feb. 21, 2019, as she was getting ready for bed, then forced her to stand naked for more than 40 minutes even as she told them that they had the wrong person, according to a federal lawsuit.
“Knowing that my words will not change what happened to you and your family almost two years ago, I nonetheless say I am sorry,” Mayor Lightfoot said at a news conference on Wednesday. “If you can hear that my voice is hoarse, it is because I have been unsparing in my comments to all involved in this colossal mess.”
She added, “I will make sure there is full accountability for what took place.”
The police declined to comment on Thursday, citing an investigation by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
According to Ms. Young’s lawsuit, the police had obtained a search warrant for a first-floor apartment on the West Side of Chicago. They were looking for a black semiautomatic handgun and ammunition that belonged to a suspect who, the police had been told by a confidential informant, lived at Ms. Young’s address, the lawsuit says.
The suspect, however, “had not lived there for several years,” according to the lawsuit. Ms. Young had been living in the apartment for four years and did not know the suspect, the lawsuit says.
The police did not try to verify that they had the correct address and instead relied entirely on the word of the confidential informant, according to the lawsuit.
Footage of the raid, which was obtained by CBS 2 in Chicago, shows several officers in tactical gear, their weapons drawn, storming into the house and yelling “search warrant.” The footage, which came from the officers’ body cameras, shows Ms. Young, who was naked, screaming and crying in her living room as the officers ask if there is a gun in the house. All of the officers were men, according to Ms. Young’s lawsuit.
“I’m a social worker,” she says. “I follow the law.”
Ms. Young continues screaming at the police that they had the wrong house.
“You don’t have to shout,” one of the officers says.
“I don’t have to shout? This is ridiculous,” Ms. Young says, using an expletive. “You’ve got me in handcuffs. I’m naked and you kicked my house in.”
Some officers tried to cover her with a blanket but it kept slipping off her shoulders because her hands were bound behind her back. Eventually, one of the officers held the blanket in place.
Mayor Lightfoot, a former prosecutor, was the first Black woman and the first lesbian to win the office when she was elected in April 2019. During the campaign, she promised to overhaul the Police Department and presented herself as an antidote to former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who in 2015 was heavily criticized for delaying the release of video footage that showed a white officer shooting a Black teenager, Laquan McDonald.
On Wednesday, Mayor Lightfoot said she was “appalled” by the video of the raid on Ms. Young’s apartment, which she said she watched with her wife.
“We as Black women put ourselves in her place,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “Our homes should be sacrosanct.”
On Monday, city lawyers asked the judge assigned to Ms. Young’s case, John J. Tharp Jr., to stop CBS 2 from airing the footage. They argued that airing it would violate a confidentiality order Judge Tharp had put in place and would “elicit a reactionary response, which carries the risk of poisoning the public’s view of the case.”
Judge Tharp denied their request, citing the fact that CBS 2 was not part of the initial complaint and was not bound by confidentiality orders.
The story aired later on Monday.
Mayor Lightfoot said that she learned of the raid when it was reported by the news media and that lawyers in her administration had tried to prevent the release of the body-camera footage.
“I made it very clear to the corporation counsel that I will not be blindsided by issues like this,” she said.
Mayor Lightfoot said she would not have allowed city lawyers to try to stop a news organization from reporting a story.
“This is not how we operate,” she said.
Lawyers for the city and for the officers did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Mayor Lightfoot said that if Ms. Young consents, she would ask the police to use the video of her detention as a training tool.
On Wednesday, Ms. Young told reporters that she was frustrated that the city had not held any of the officers involved accountable.
“They didn’t serve me,” she said. “They didn’t protect me. They didn’t care about me.”
Mayor Lightfoot did not directly answer a question about whether anyone would be fired.
“I think we need to get to the bottom of this,” she said. “I obviously wasn’t happy about the way that this was handled.”
Ms. Young invoked the name of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police officers during a botched raid at her apartment in Louisville, Ky., in March. She called on Mayor Lightfoot to visit her church and tell the congregation what she planned to do to prevent a similar episode from happening in the future.
“I did vote for you. I told my friends to vote for you,” she said. “I believed in you as a Black woman that was running for mayor in the city of Chicago.”