CHICAGO (WLS) — Eleven police officers and one police sergeant who raided the home of Anjanette Young last year have been placed on desk duty while the Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigates, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.
“Until the COPA investigation is complete, these officers need to be off the street. But that investigation needs to be handled and come to conclusion in an expeditious way,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
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A day after the mayor sought and received the resignation of Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner, the fallout continues to mount following last week’s broadcast of a nearly two-year-old police bodycam video.
Last week, it came to light that the city’s law department tried to block the video of the raid on an innocent woman’s home from being released. The footage shows Young, handcuffed and with no clothes on.
Mayor Lightfoot announced that her senior ethics advisor Celia Meza has been appointed to lead the Chicago Law Department on an interim basis.
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Lightfoot went on to thank Flessner for his service, but also said “I am committed to a full review of everything that occurred surrounding this incident, will take corrective action where appropriate, and will hold people accountable.”
“There is no excuse that this matter has languished for a year without any significant movement on the part of COPA. 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,” Lightfoot said.
“She’s probably going to fire more people, the people who she will say did not inform her. But it raises questions about why would, why in an administration like this would they not more on top of this,” said ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington.
“Our officers are always first in line to be thrown under the bus,” said Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara. “You mean to tell me nobody in the mayor’s inner circle knew about that video prior to Tuesday, like she’s claiming she didn’t know either.”
The city is conducting a review of why Young’s FOIA request was denied.
“Victims like Miss Young should have full access to materials involving them, period,” Lightfoot said.
Two of the city’s most influential aldermen stood beside the mayor Monday to announce hearings into the matter.
“We will be having a top-to-bottom legislative hearing tomorrow at 11 a.m.,” said 29th Ward Alderman Christ Taliaferro, who also serves as chairman of the Public Safety Committee.
The hearings are expected to call in members from COPA and the police department to explain their actions, and also to introduce policy changes into how search warrants are issued, how complainants can gain access to bodycam video, and how the city’s law department deals with litigation against it.
“We will be in session tomorrow righting some of the wrongs that have been done, and move into a place everyone can feel safe in their own home,” said 28th Ward Alderman Jason Ervin.
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“We are going to take the reins and lead the city in the direction we want to go,” said 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston. “No more talk about reform. It’s time for action, and bold action.”
Aldermen want to abolish the practice of issuing warrants based only on information from a paid informant, and to create a standardized warrant application process with a way to track cases.
“We will do the legislative fixes that need to be done and hold the appropriate parties accountable,” Ald. Ervin said.
For the mayor, what happens next could be defining.
“This goes right to the heart of her ability to get a second term because it goes right to the heart of the reason she was elected. She was elected as a reformer,” Washington said.
As head of the city’s law department, it was Flessner who signed off on the legal filing that sought to stop the public from seeing the video.
In a statement, Flessner denied being part of a cover up.
“Today, I offered my letter of resignation to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. It has been an honor to serve as Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago for the last two years and to be a part of my friend, Lori’s team. I am tremendously proud of my work for the Lightfoot Administration and all that we have accomplished.
“There has recently been a great deal of attention drawn to the 2019 raid of Anjanette Young’s home. Monday was the first involvement that I had with the case surrounding Anjanette Young, pertaining to the video footage that was obtained by police. It is clear that the raid of Anjanette Young’s home was a tragedy that we must learn from.
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“Standing up for racial injustice and fighting for equality within our justice system are crucial matters that we must continue to work toward addressing as a community.”
Young’s lawyer Keenen Saulter said he had no comment on Flessner’s resignation Sunday.
Lightfoot admitted Thursday that she knew about the botched police raid that left Anjanette Young, an innocent woman, handcuffed with no clothes on. She called what happened in that home a “colossal failure” and has ordered changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
As head of the city’s law department, it was Flessner who signed off on the legal filing that sought to stop the public from seeing Young, in clear distress, standing handcuffed and naked for over 40 minutes as police officers executed a search warrant on her home.
It is expected he will be filing a lawsuit against both the city and the police department on Young’s behalf in coming days.
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