BY GREGORY PRATT AND JOHN BYRNE
CHICAGO – All of the Chicago Police officers who were involved in the raid of Anjanette Young’s home have been placed on desk duty, the latest measure taken by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration in response to the ongoing scandal.
Lightfoot announced the move, which she said was taken by police superintendent David Brown, as she again sought to rebuild trust with residents following her administration’s attempt to prevent a television station from airing video of the February 2019 raid on Young’s home by police who targeted the wrong address.
She also criticized the Civilan Office of Police Accountability for taking too long investigating the case, saying “justice delayed is justice denied.”
“Frankly, there is no excuse that this matter has languished for a year without any significant movement on the part of COPA,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot also said she will appoint Celia Meza, a senior legal adviser in the mayor’s office, interim corporation counsel after Law Department head Mark Flessner resigned last weekend.
Flessner came under fire after the Law Department filed a motion to prevent WBBM-Ch. 2 from airing body camera footage of Chicago police officers mistakenly raiding Young’s home.
Lightfoot’s office also disclosed that it failed to give Young’s attorney all of the body camera footage of the wrongful police raid, a recurring problem for the city’s Law Department.
City lawyers also filed a request to have Young sanctioned for allegedly violating a confidentiality order on the video, though the city later said it only wanted her lawyer sanctioned, before filing paperwork on Dec. 18 seeking to drop the matter altogether.
A federal judge rejected the Lightfoot administration’s unusual request to prevent a television station from airing a news report. The courts long have ruled against efforts to prevent news companies from publishing reports, saying it’s an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
Lightfoot has criticized the Law Department for taking the action and denied knowing about it beforehand.
Embarrassment for mayor
The Young raid has become a major embarrassment for Lightfoot, who initially said that she had only learned of the February 2019 incident after CBS-Ch. 2 aired police body camera footage that showed Young, who was handcuffed naked, repeatedly telling officers who barged into her home that they had the wrong place.
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel famously fought to keep secret a video showing White police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, but a county judge ordered his administration to release the video.
Emanuel has since been dogged by accusations that he covered up the scandal to preserve his 2015 reelection campaign, an allegation he’s denied.
Chicago has since instituted a rule allowing the release of police shooting videos and audio within 60 days. Responding to the Young controversy, Lightfoot said her administration will no longer withhold video from residents seeking police records about their cases and acknowledged that the city’s handling of the matter harmed her relationship with Chicagoans.
History of misconduct
The city’s handling of police video in Young’s raid also highlights a major problem in Chicago’s Law Department.
A 2016 Chicago Tribune investigation found that of nearly 450 cases alleging police misconduct since Emanuel took office, a federal judge had to order the city to turn over potential evidence in nearly 1 in every 5 cases.
In numerous cases, the city’s conduct was found to be so inappropriate that a federal judge took the unusual step of handing down sanctions.
Lightfoot has acknowledged that members of her team told her about the raid in November 2019, as CBS was doing continued reporting on search warrants being served at the wrong addresses, which the TV station has covered extensively. Lightfoot said her administration would release the emails, though it has not yet done so.