The city of Chicago attempted to block a local news station from airing recently obtained body camera footage of police mistakenly raiding the wrong home with guns drawn and handcuffing a distressed, naked woman.
CBS2-TV released body camera footage on Monday night of officers forcing their way into the home of Anjanette Young nearly two years ago. The 50-year-old clinical social worker, who helps victims of violence and mentors people of color going into her profession, had just finished her work shift at a hospital and was undressing in her bedroom when a group of male officers broke down her door with a battering ram.
“It was so traumatic to hear the thing that was hitting the door,” she told CBS2 in a televised interview as part of Monday’s report. “And it happened so fast, I didn’t have time to put on clothes.”
In the disturbing Feb. 21, 2019, footage, officers appear to have their guns drawn while they yell for Young to put her hands up. She can then be seen in the video fully naked with her hands raised, looking terrified and confused (CBS2 blurred parts of the video in which Young was shown naked). One officer puts Young’s hands behind her back and handcuffs her, leaving her with no way to cover herself as police search her home.
An officer can be seen attempting to drape a short coat around Young’s shoulders, which still leaves her front fully exposed while police surround her. Someone puts a blanket on her that keeps sliding open because she can’t hold it closed. Eventually, an officer holds the blanket closed on her.
Young becomes increasingly and understandably distressed in the footage as officers refuse to tell her why they have raided her home. She asks them repeatedly to let her put clothes on and tells them she believes they have the wrong information.
According to CBS2, Young told police at least 43 times that they were in the wrong home. She said that officers responded to her distress in a way that amplified it, telling her not to shout when she’d ask questions.
“When I asked them to show me, when I asked them to tell me what they are doing in my house, and their response to me was just ‘shut up and calm down,’” Young told the station, “that’s so disrespectful.”
CBS2 found that the officers involved failed to check if they had the correct address before getting their search warrant approved. A confidential informant had told the raid’s lead officer that he’d recently seen a known felon with guns and ammunition at the address, according to the police department’s complaint for a search warrant, which the news station obtained.
The informant reportedly gave police the wrong address, and there’s no evidence that officers independently verified the informant’s claim.
The person that officers were looking for actually lived in the unit next door to Young at the time of the raid and had no connection to her, CBS2 found. The suspect was also reportedly wearing an electronic monitoring device, making it even easier for officers to track his location. Body camera footage showed officers in a squad car looking at notes and saying, “It wasn’t initially approved or some crap.”
“They are adding trauma to people’s lives that will be with them the rest of their lives,” Young told CBS2. “The system is broken.”
Young fought for nearly two years to get the footage of the raid on her home released. The Chicago Police Department initially denied her Freedom of Information Act request but eventually turned over the footage after a judge ordered it as part of Young’s lawsuit.
Hours before CBS2’s report on Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s lawyers filed an emergency motion in federal court to try and stop the station from airing bodycam footage of the raid. The lawyers also wanted Young punished, accusing her of sharing the video with a news outlet despite a confidentiality order.
“In open court, Defense Counsel specifically outlined concerns that this video would be shared with the media in a salacious and unfair manner designed to elicit a reactionary response, which carries the risk of poisoning the public’s view of the case,” Lightfoot’s lawyers argued in the filing.
They also said the footage, which shows a naked woman in distress begging officers to leave because they raided the wrong home, paints “an inaccurate picture of what happened during the subject search warrant.”
CBS2 said it filed a response to the city’s motion calling it unconstitutional and an effort to suppress the station’s reporting. While CBS2 was broadcasting the report, a judge denied the motion by Lightfoot’s lawyers.
Chicago police declined to tell HuffPost whether the officers involved in the raid will be penalized, citing an open investigation with the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability. COPA didn’t launch its investigation until nine months after the incident, when CBS2 first broke the story of the raid.
“Social workers are trained to have unconditional positive regard for clients,” tweeted Social Service Workers United-Chicago, a group of area social workers who advocate for improved conditions in the field. “CPD’s behavior would not have been justified if they had violently raided the ‘right’ home, because everyone, regardless of what they are accused of, is entitled to constitutional due process.”
At a press conference for Chicago’s first COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday, a reporter asked Lightfoot why her office attempted to block CBS2 from airing the footage and also punish Young for sharing it.
“That was not something that happened on my watch,” the mayor started. “Because of the concern that we saw and was expressed, we changed the protocols for search warrants. It requires now two supervisors, it requires a pre-check of the location. And I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that we’ve solved every problem.”
“I watched that video and I put myself in that poor woman’s place and thinking about somebody breaking into your home … and the trauma that that causes,” Lightfoot continued. “I think we have taken steps to address that issue. This case was litigated in federal court. The federal judge put in place an order. There’s allegations she has violated that. But what I’ve directed my law department to is resolve any pending case with respect to Young’s situation.”
However, Chicago police have continued to ignore even the small search warrant policy changes Lightfoot made in February of this year, nearly two years after CBS2 began exposing botched Chicago police raids.
The mayor also dodged the question on Tuesday of why her law department tried to get a last-minute federal court order to stop CBS2 from airing its story.
“It's one of those moments where I felt I could have died that night. ... I truly believe they would have shot me.”
If the story feels familiar, that’s because it is. Chicago’s previous mayor, Rahm Emanuel, left a stained legacy when he blocked bodycam footage of police fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald for nearly a year until a judge ordered the city to release it.
Young’s ordeal also recalls the killing of Breonna Taylor, a young Black woman whom police shot to death earlier this year as part of a botched drug raid meant for someone else. Body camera footage released much later showed officers walking around the apartment as Taylor lay on the floor, bleeding to death.
While Taylor’s family received a settlement for the high-profile crime, none of the officers were charged for killing her. Earlier this year, Lightfoot held a citywide moment of silence for Taylor.
“It’s one of those moments where I felt I could have died that night,” Young told CBS while wearing a T-Shirt with Taylor’s face. “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.”