The city of Chicago’s top lawyer has resigned after fallout from bodycam footage that shows the police wrongly raid the home of Anjanette Young, a black social worker who was handcuffed in the nude.
Mark Flessner announced his resignation on Sunday and made it abundantly clear that the incident was cause for his resignation.
‘I’m resigning because of the firestorm around the whole tape thing,’ Flessner told the Chicago Tribune. ‘I’m being accused of trying to hide it, which is not true.’
Chicago’s top attorney, Mark Flessner, has resigned amid the fallout from a botched CPD raid
The city’s law department which was headed by Flessner tried to block the release of police body cam video. He tweeted about his resignation on Sunday night
The crisis has consumed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration over the past week.
In a written statement Sunday she said how she accepted Flessner’s resignation as corporation counsel and thanked him for his service.
‘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,’ she said in the statement.
Flessner, who is also a longtime friend of the mayor, did not say whether he had been asked to resign.
Controversy escalated earlier in December after Lightfoot’s Law Department attempted to block Chicago television station WBBM-Channel 2 from airing body camera footage of Chicago police officers mistakenly raiding Young’s home in February 2019, before the mayor took office.
Officers tried to cover Young up by putting a hoodie on her and a blanket over her shoulders, but because she was handcuffed, they kept slipping off her shoulders leaving her exposed
Officers asked her if she knew the armed suspect they were looking for and she said, ‘I don’t know who that person is.’ The suspect turned out to be her neighbor and had no connection to her
Young was forced to stand uncomfortably handcuffed and partially naked in front of the group of officers as they peppered her with questions in the botched raid
Footage of the raid showed Chicago police executing a search warrant at her apartment. Young was naked and continued to protest her innocence to officers.
In a complaint she filed, she stated how she was handcuffed naked for almost 45 minutes before she was allowed to get clothes when a female Chicago Police Officer was called to her home to help her get dressed.
Police had gone to the wrong home and were looking for someone who did not live at the address despite police claiming that they did.
When Chicago’s CBS TV station requested bodycam footage of the raid, the City of Chicago tried to obtain a court order to stop the network from airing the video.
A federal judge turned that request down.
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 footage of Young in clear distress.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week apologized to Young for a misguided police raid on her apartment in 2019, and for the city’s efforts to block release of bodycam footage
She told the officers a total of 43 times that they had raided the wrong address
In one portion of the footage two officers seated in a squad car discuss the approval of the search warrant. One officer says that warrant wasn’t initially approved
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.
‘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.’
On Friday, Lightfoot’s office acknowledged that they failed to turn over six videos to Anjanette Young’s lawyers that were requested earlier this year, calling it ‘accidental’.
Flessner’s resignation marks the first major resignation over the raid.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot apologized to Young during a press conference last Wednesday
‘I am deeply sorry and troubled that her home was invaded and that she had to face the humiliation and trauma that she suffered. That is just not right,’ Lightfoot said. ‘It simply should not have happened. And I will make sure that there is full accountability for what took place.’
‘Filing a motion against a media outlet to prevent something from being published is something that should rarely, if ever, happen. This is not how we operate,’ Lightfoot said. ‘And had I been advised that this was in the works, I would have stopped it in its tracks. This is not how we operate. Period.’
Eventually the officers let Young put on clothes and said ‘We believe your story’
A view of officers breaking down Young’s front door with a battery ram and crow bar above
‘I was completely and totally appalled as a human being, as a black woman and as a parent,’ Lightfoot told reporters. ‘Ms Young’s dignity, that she and all of us deserve, was taken from us and this is simply inexcusable.’
Lightfoot was campaigning to be mayor when the incident occurred under her predecessor Rahm Emanuel.
Lightfoot initially claimed she only learned of the incident after the TV station aired the footage showing Young but she has since acknowledged hearing about the raid in November 2019.
The mayor has also said that her administration will no longer withhold video from residents seeking police records about their cases.
‘It’s one of those moments where I felt I could have died that night. 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,’ Young tearfully said. She has filed a lawsuit against the police following the botched raid
The incident began unfolding on February 21, 2019, when Young, a social worker, had returned home from her shift at a hospital and was undressed in her bedroom when a group of officers, with at least nine body cameras, broke down her door with a battering ram and crowbar.
The officers were looking for a 23-year-old suspect who allegedly had a gun, but they didn’t verify the address before conducting the search warrant. That suspect lived in the unit next door to Young.
Video footage was released publicly for the first time last week and Young cried as she watched it back and revealed she’s still traumatized.
‘It’s one of those moments where I felt I could have died that night. 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,’ Young tearfully said in an interview with CBS 2 Chicago.
Young had filed a Freedom of Information ACT (FOIA) request for the video to show the public. A court forced Chicago police to turn over the footage as a part of Young’s lawsuit against the department.
‘I feel like they didn’t want us to have this video because they knew how bad it was. They knew they had done something wrong. They knew that the way they treated me was not right,’ Young said.
In the disturbing footage Young appeared shocked when the officers burst into her home after tearing down the door and shouted ‘Police search warrant! and ‘Hands up, hands up!’
‘It was so traumatic to hear the thing that was hitting the door. And it happened so fast, I didn’t have time to put on clothes,’ Young said.
In the clip Young became distressed as she was forced to stand in the living room naked and handcuffed as officers swarmed her apartment.
She yelled at least 43 times ‘You’ve got the wrong house!’
‘What is going on? There’s nobody else here, I live alone. I mean, what is going on here? You’ve got the wrong house. I live alone,’ she shouted at one point of the clip.
At first an officer tried to put a hoodie sweater on her but it kept falling off. Then another officer ultimately threw a blanket over her shoulders but because she was handcuffed the blanket slipped off her shoulders, leaving her exposed again.
‘I’m just standing there, terrified, humiliated, not even understanding why in that moment this is happening to me,’ she said reflecting on the incident.
In the clip she begged officers to let her get dressed and she told them she believed they had bad information. She had lived in the home alone for the past four years.
‘Oh my God, this cannot be right. How is this legal,’ she wailed.
It turned out that police had visited her home acting on a bad tip.
A day before the raid a confidential informant told the lead officer on the raid that he recently saw a 23-year-old man who was a known felon armed with a gun and ammunition. They gave the faulty address to police and cops didn’t independently verify if the address was correct.
It turned out the suspect lived in the unit next door to Young and had no connection to her whatsoever.
The suspect was awaiting trial on home confinement and was wearing an electronic monitoring device, meaning cops could have easily tracked his exact location.
Eventually the officers let Young put on clothes and said ‘We believe your story.’