Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday had her counsel move to withdraw sanctions against an attorney who represents the woman at the center of a botched Chicago police raid and the controversy that followed it.
“Today, at my direction, the Corporation Counsel filed a supplemental motion with the court to make a few things clear," Lightfoot said in a statement.
While Lightfoot said no sanctions were sought against the woman herself, Lightfoot said she asked her counsel to "formally move to withdraw sanctions against Attorney [Keenan] Saulter."
"While we remain concerned that a violation of a court order may have occurred, I believe that we should give Attorney Saulter the benefit of the doubt that he did not appreciate that the court's confidentiality order continued in full force and effect, even after the voluntary dismissal of the case in March 2020," Lightfoot said. "We urge the court to take no action against Attorney Saulter. I again want to reiterate and affirm my commitment to righting the wrongs in this case and moving forward with full transparency and accountability.”
Sanctions were sought against Saulter after video obtained by a federal lawsuit earlier this year was released, despite a confidentiality agreement. Saulter said the federal suit was dropped as he worked to pursue the case in state court.
The case has been at the center of controversy in Chicago as both Lightfoot and the city's top cop apologized for the handling of both the search warrant and the legal battle that followed.
Lightfoot on Thursday walked back her claim that she was not previously aware of the botched raid in which officers went to the wrong home and handcuffed a naked woman in an incident caught on body camera footage that her administration fought to keep from being released in court.
Lightfoot acknowledged Thursday that she was in fact informed of the raid, which took place prior to her taking office, in November 2019, but said she did not remember being told about it. That was a marked shift from when she said on Wednesday that she was made aware of the both the incident and the video only the day before.
"What I now know, having looked at some emails, is my team knew that this was an issue of great concern for me - issue meaning about the search warrants," Lightfoot said.
"So this was lifted up to me as yet another example," she added. "Again, I don't have any specific recollection of it. It was in November when I was probably focused on budget issues and getting our budget passed through City Council, but it was flagged for me."
Lightfoot maintained that she had not seen video of the incident until Tuesday.
But that wasn't the only thing Lightfoot chose to correct about her remarks surrounding the incident.
The mayor also said she "misspoke" Wednesday when she said that a Freedom of Information Act Request filed by the woman at the center of the raid was not denied.
"Miss Young did file a FOIA request," Lightfoot said. "That request was filed with the Chicago Police Department in November of 2019. That request was denied and I've asked for a top to bottom understanding of why that was denied."
Anjanette Young and her attorney say police raided the wrong home on Feb. 19, 2019, as they served a search warrant. Recently released video showed officers handcuffed Young while she stood naked for several minutes, despite her repeated cries that they were in the wrong home.
Videos of the incident that Young obtained as part of her lawsuit against the city were released this week and obtained by NBC 5 Wednesday.
Lightfoot repeatedly apologized for the "colossal mess" that is still ongoing nearly two years after the incident.
"It left me upset, angry, appalled as a human being and as a Black woman," Lightfoot said. "And I immediately put myself in Miss Young's place and I know that this could happen to me, it could happen to any other Black or Brown person not in Chicago, but elsewhere."
Lightfoot said she reached out to Young's attorney and asked to meet her in person. She also touted a series of changes made this year to the police department's search warrant policies, including changes to the approval process for obtaining search warrants, ensuring multiple uniformed officers are present when such matters are conducted, a requirement that body cameras be worn and a policy for what to do should a warrant be executed on the wrong address.
But more changes are needed, Lightfoot said.
"Anytime a person who's 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," she said, adding that "we will change our policies and procedures to make sure that a victim who reaches out shouldn't have to file for requests, should just get the information that they seek."
Lightfoot's administration tried to prevent footage of the raid from being aired on television in an emergency court filing Monday, which a federal judge rejected.
"I made it very clear to the corporation counsel that I will not be blindsided by issues like this," Lightfoot said Wednesday. "Had I been advised that this was in the works I would have stopped it in its tracks. This is not how we operate."
She added Thursday that she is evaluating the situation and has not yet decided if personnel changes will be in order following the incident.
Lightfoot said she has since directed the city's law department to provide her with a review of all pending search warrant cases.
"If there are other wrongs that need to be righted, we are going to do just that," she said. "We're not going to string these cases out, we're not going to run up attorneys feeds. If we were in the wrong, we're going to own it."
That sentiment was one Chicago Police Supt. David Brown echoed.
"It's the right thing to do to be the first to admit your mistakes," Brown said Thursday. "The video of the raid of Miss Young's home is hard to watch. It's hard to feel Miss Young's anguish and fear and pain when viewing that video."
Brown promised accountability, saying "talk is cheap."
"Everyone deserves a measure of respect," Brown said. "Even if we had been in the right house, Miss Young should have been treated with respect. The fact that we are in the wrong house should have guided us toward even going further to respect this woman and her family. Because it's always the right time to do the right thing and we should have been first to admit a mistake."
Young said she is still dealing with the aftermath from the incident nearly two years later.
"This is so terrifying for me that two years later, I'm still dealing with it," Young said. "That the city has spent the last two years and, for lack of better words, is telling me that they did nothing wrong."
Young spoke publicly Wednesday amid what her attorney and city activists said was an attempt to cover up the video of the raid, which her attorney described as "a very eerily similar situation" to the one that killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
"Laquan McDonald tragically lost his life. Breonna Taylor tragically lost her life. Miss Young was violated and by the grace of God, she's here to tell her story," said Saulter. "But Laquan McDonald and Breonna Taylor should have been instrumental in the decisions that the city made about this video, and in the ways that they approached this case. How, after seeing the horrific nature in which Breonna Taylor was murdered in her own home - in a very eerily similar situation - how could you know that that occurred during this calendar year, that caused global level protest during a global pandemic, and think it was okay to try to suppress?"
In the video, police officers can be heard knocking before shouting "police search warrant."
Young can be heard crying and screaming, “You've got the wrong house, you've got the wrong house.”
According to her attorney, Young repeated that phrase 43 times during the raid.
An officer ultimately threw a blanket over her shoulders at one point, but because she was handcuffed the blanket slipped off her shoulders, leaving her exposed again.
"I pride myself in being a law-abiding citizen. I've always lived my life being truthful to what is right and wrong," Young said. "Working as a social worker, I've spent over 20 years working with families who deal with trauma, helping families through hard situations. And it's been very surreal and overwhelming to live this experience."
Both Young and her attorney criticized the city's, specifically the mayor's, handling of the case.
"There's a lot of trust that's been breached and I know that there's a lot of trust in me that's been breached," Lightfoot said Thursday. "And I have a responsibility to build back that trust and a responsibility to build back the trust of our city, of our police department and all of government."