Chicago's "wrong raid" results in resignation of top city lawyer

In case you hadn’t caught wind of this tale previously, our story starts in Chicago nearly two years ago, back in 2019. A woman named Anjanette Young was in her apartment where she had undressed and prepared to shower when a massive thud was heard at her front door. The door crashed open and a group of male Chicago Police officers burst into the apartment. They handcuffed Young while she was still naked and protesting their actions as they began a thorough search of the apartment.

Ms. Young’s distress becomes far more understandable when you learn that the police had come to the wrong apartment and the name on the warrant they had was not hers. She was eventually released and the police left. Since that time she has filed Freedom of Information Act requests attempting to get the officers’ body camera footage, all to no avail. But CBS News in Chicago picked up the story last year and began working on it. They eventually obtained the footage. That led to a bizarre series of attempts by the city to obfuscate the story, but the pressure from the public apparently got to them eventually. This weekend, the city’s top Attorney resigned as the scandal continued to widen.

Chicago’s top lawyer, Mark Flessner, has resigned over the Anjanette Young wrong raid scandal, first brought to light by a CBS 2 investigation.

“Today I offered my letter of resignation to Mayor Lori Lightfoot,” Flessner wrote, in part, in a statement released to CBS 2. “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.”

Flessner, who served as corporation counsel for the city, announced his resignation Sunday. Flessner was previously a partner at the firm Holland & Knight and was a federal prosecutor in Chicago for 12 years, according to the city’s website.

Anjanette Young is actually a social worker who had just finished her shift at a local hospital and returned home on the night of the raid. It was later determined that she had no connection to the suspect that the cops were looking for.

The initial screwup of the raid was bad, but it was far from the worst thing about this story. The police are humans too and fallible like any of us. Mistakes happen. If they had simply apologized, the city would probably have just had to pay out a large settlement in a lawsuit, suspended a few people and moved on. But that’s not what happened.

From the moment Ms. Young began asking for videos, the police and the city fought her and her attorney tooth and claw. After CBS broke the story, rather than apologizing, they sought sanctions against Young’s attorney for leaking the video footage and attempted to get an injunction preventing CBS from airing it. All of those efforts eventually failed and the story came to light. Only now are the long-overdue apologies coming out.

The real question here is why it was Mark Flessner who resigned. The city attorney’s statement reveals that he only learned about this last Monday. What about the people who knew about this debacle for almost two years? I suppose it’s possible that he was involved in the attempt to cover the situation up by blocking the release of the body camera footage. If that’s the case, then he probably needed to go. But the police and their superiors have obviously known about this for a very long time. And who is in charge of the police in Chicago? Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She obviously could have stepped in on Young’s behalf before her belated claims this weekend about taking “corrective action” and “holding people accountable.”

This all started as a procedural failure. The police had heard from an informant that a known felon had been seen with a gun and some ammunition. Unfortunately, the informant gave them Young’s address when the suspect actually lived in the apartment next door. They didn’t do any additional background checking to verify the address before obtaining a warrant and crashing in. That initial mistake pales in comparison to the obvious coverup that’s been going on in Chicago since then, however. It does sound like heads may still roll, but Lori Lightfoot is scrambling to make sure that hers isn’t one of them.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022
David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022