By SOPHIA TAREEN
CHICAGO (AP) _ Videos released Thursday by Chicago police depict disturbing scenes of officers wrongfully raiding the home of a Black woman who was not allowed to put on clothes before being handcuffed.
Police released 20 video files from body-worn cameras of the February 2019 incident during which Anjanette Young, a social worker, repeatedly pleads with police officers that they’re in the wrong place.
“I don’t own a gun. I don’t even like guns. You’ve got the wrong place. I promise you. You are not going to find a gun here,” she says to officers as he sobs. “Whoever gave you that information gave you the wrong information.”
Footage of the botched raid, first reported by Chicago’s WBBM-TV, prompted wide criticism from civil rights groups, city aldermen and Black state legislators who’ve call it racist, gendered violence and a violation of a Black woman’s dignity.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot initially tried to distance herself from the incident by saying it happened before she took office in May 2019. But her administration tried unsuccessfully in court to block WBBM-TV from airing the footage this week, which Young obtained through her lawsuit with the city. Young was denied access to the video in a November 2019 Freedom of Information Act request to the city. The city also tried to have Young sanctioned for apparently breaking a confidentiality agreement.
Later, Lightfoot apologized. She said Young shouldn’t be punished and vowed to make changes in the department on the warrant process and use the video to train officers on what not to do. Lightfoot said Thursday that the city would also make changes to allow victims to get video faster without having to file a request.
“Anytime a person who is a victim requests information about an incident that happened to them, our government’s obligation is to respond in a fulsome, transparent and immediate way,“ Lightfoot said at a news conference.
Young has said she had returned home after work and was undressing for bed when police broke down her door. The videos, portions of which have been blurred, show officers using a battering ram to break the door. She said she did not have time to dress before officers stormed into her apartment.
Eventually, an officer threw a blanket over her shoulders but because she was handcuffed the blanket slipped off her shoulders, leaving her exposed again.
Police Superintendent David Brown said Thursday that there was no excuse for the officers’ behavior.
“We hire people who we think know right from wrong. If they don’t know right from wrong, they don’t need to be police officers,” he said.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the incident and could make recommendations for discipline. Lightfoot has said she’ll be watching the results closely.
Young told reporters earlier this week that it was difficult to have the video out in the public sphere, but she wanted accountability.
“It’s unacceptable. It tells me they don’t care about me, a person who lives in this city. I work. I pay my taxes. I vote,” she said. “And so to have my home invaded the way it was, for over 40 minutes to have to deal with police officers yelling at me, pointing guns at me, telling me to calm down, making me stand in front of them naked, putting handcuffs on me while I was naked. No one should have to experience that.”