CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was first told in November 2019 of a “pretty bad wrongful raid” on the home of a Black woman who wasn’t allowed to put on her clothes before police handcuffed her, according to emails released publicly Wednesday.
The more than 150 pages of emails between city aides contradict Lightfoot’s initial claim that she didn’t know about the February 2019 botched raid on the home of Anjanette Young until earlier this month when Chicago’s WBBM-TV first aired police footage. The incident and the city’s response has prompted nationwide criticism, the ouster of the city’s top attorney, put 12 police officers and led to an independent investigation.
Lightfoot, who won office in April 2019, later said she was informed by staff in November 2019 of emails but didn’t have a recollection of them.
“Mayor please see below for pretty bad wrongful raid coming out tomorrow,” says a Nov. 11, 2019 email from Susan Lee, a former deputy mayor for public safety. The email included a summary of the incident where Young was “allegedly left standing for 40 minutes handcuffed and naked while all-male” police officers searched the apartment.
Lightfoot responded about 30 minutes later: “I have a lot of questions about this one. Can we do a quick call about it?”
Lightfoot said Wednesday in a statement that she released the emails “proactively” but they were not an “exhaustive or comprehensive full review of all emails surrounding the raid on Ms. Young’s home.” She’s said the city has since changed its search warrant process.
The raid has become a major issue for Lightfoot’s credibility. Police accountability and reform were among her top platform items during her mayoral campaign. A former federal prosecutor, Lightfoot had never held public office, something that appealed to many voters after the tenure of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff and congressman.
Emanuel’s administration was under fire for blocking the release of officer video of the October 2014 police killing of Black teenager Laquan McDonald. After a judge’s order, months after Emanuel survived a mayoral runoff election, Chicago released the video in November 2015, prompting months of protests. He decided not to seek a third term.
Missteps related to the Young raid have had Lightfoot on the defensive for weeks.
She has apologized for her administration going to court in an attempt to block the police footage from airing on television, for refusing Young’s Freedom of Information Act request to get video of the incident and initially trying to sanction Young for reportedly breaking a confidentiality agreement in her lawsuit with the city.
Lightfoot has said she wants to meet with Young in person, but plans for an in-person meeting earlier this week were scrapped because of disagreements over how to proceed.
Young has said it is difficult to have the video in the public eye, but she wants accountability. Her attorney declined to comment Wednesday.