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One of Chicago’s top attorneys has resigned after the release of bodycam footage that showed police arresting the wrong person, a Black social worker, who was naked at the time in her own home.
Police who targeted the home of Anjanette Young in a February 2019 raid were looking for another person entirely: a 23-year-old suspected of being in possession of a weapon. Young filed a request through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to have footage of the incident released publicly, but the city refused. However, video eventually became public.
On Sunday, Mark Flessner, the city’s Corporation Counsel, announced that he’d be stepping down from his post.
“It is clear that the raid of Anjanette Young’s home was a tragedy that we must learn from,” Flessner said in a statement, according to The Guardian. “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.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accepted Flessner’s resignation, according to the outlet.
Young, who was changing out of her work clothes just after coming home from her job, was naked when officers forced themselves into her home. Despite repeatedly telling the officers they had the wrong home, police handcuffed Young anyway, and left her standing naked in her living room.
“I’ve been living here for four years and nobody lives here but me,” she yells in the bodycam footage. “I’m telling you this is wrong,” Young continued. “I have nothing to do with whoever this person is you are looking for.”
The officers put a blanket around her shoulders minutes after breaking in, but the covering was of no use as her hands were still handcuffed behind her. She was eventually allowed to change once officers realized their mistake.
Young told CBS 2 Chicago last week that the incident traumatized her.
“It’s one of those moments where I felt I could have died that night,” she told the local news station. “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.”
A federal lawsuit filed by Young and her attorney against the city of Chicago in August 2019 also names Chicago Police Department officers Alain Aporongao and Alex Wolinski as defendants.
The police raid on Young’s home draws many parallels to the raid that ended in the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this year. In that case, police were also targeting a different suspect, Taylor’s boyfriend. Upon entering Taylor’s home, officers fired their weapons, killing Taylor, a Black EMT worker who was in bed, and firing bullets through the walls of her apartment and into the apartment next door.
Since Taylor’s death, warrants have become a major part of the conversation around police reform in the U.S., sparking months of protests against the law enforcement tool. Several U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Memphis and Louisville, have banned the use of no-knock warrants outright.
After Young’s FOIA for the bodycam footage was refused last year, she filed a federal lawsuit against the city. Flessner and the city tried to sanction Young and her attorney, claiming that the legal actions violated a February confidentiality agreement between her and the city. Young received 14 out of 20 bodycam videos captured that night after a court ordered the Chicago Police Department to release the footage to her attorney in February 2020, according to the Chicago Tribune. CBS aired parts of the footage with Young’s permission last week.
Last Friday, at the direction of Mayor Lightfoot, the city dropped the case against Young. Though Lightfoot initially said she had only learned about the raid at Young’s home when the footage was aired on CBS 2 Chicago, she later admitted she was informed of the situation more than a year prior, according to the news station.
Mayor Lightfoot said she’s ordering the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to expedite the investigation into the botched raid.