Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that if she could go back and "do things differently" in the case of a controversial police raid on the wrong home, she "absolutely would," noting she wished she "had asked more questions" but again denying that she was briefed on the incident in detail.
Lightfoot's comments on the controversy were her first since her office, on the day before New Year's Eve, released more than 150 pages of emails related to the raid that took place in February 2019 but came to light in recent weeks after police body camera video was made public, showing Anjanette Young handcuffed and standing naked in her home for several minutes.
Young, a social worker, can be heard in the video repeatedly telling officers that they are in the wrong home. Video of the incident was released to Young last month as part of a lawsuit against the city and was obtained by several Chicago news outlets, including NBC 5.
When the video was released, Lightfoot initially said she was not previously aware of the botched raid, only to walk those comments back the next day, saying she was informed of the raid more than a year earlier.
The emails her office released last week show Lightfoot communicated about the raid with her staff on Nov. 11, 2019, when her staff sent her details on what one member of her team called "a pretty bad wrongful raid."
Lightfoot responded "I have a lot of questions about this one" and asked to do a "quick call" about it minutes later, the emails show. The emails also show she was told a media outlet's Freedom of Information Act request for the video was denied and that Young's request was "in the works."
The following day, Lightfoot's chief risk officer emailed her on the findings from a working group on search warrants, to which the mayor responded by asking to "escalate" an effort to train all who have applied for two or more search warrants within the previous 18 months.
"We cannot afford any additional hits," Lightfoot's email reads. The trove of emails also include one message in which Lightfoot followed up with the risk officer on Dec. 3, 2019, to ask where things stood with "a new protocol on the execution of search warrants."
Lightfoot on Tuesday pushed back on a question claiming the emails show she was briefed "in detail" about the raid itself.
"I don't want to quibble. But I think the emails speak for themselves," Lightfoot said. "There was a brief discussion about the reporting that was planned by CBS to my understanding, based upon - and I don't have any contemporaneous recollection of it, I was out of the office for most of that day. It was Veterans Day and many, many events that day."
"But my understanding from looking at the emails is that I was informed that Miss Young was going to be getting the videos the next day. Now, apparently, that obviously didn't happen," Lightfoot continued. "But that wasn't something that was brought to me. So I don't think it's correct to say I received a detailed briefing, it's just not correct."
"Obviously, what I did in reaction to learning about the reporting was to press again on fixing the systemic problem that was leading to too many officers going into homes for which there was absolutely zero evidence of criminal conduct. And I think that that was a proper focus for me.," she continued. "But with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had asked more questions and gone deeper into Miss Young's individual case."
When pressed about how she could not remember a case like Young's, Lightfoot said she would go back and "do things differently" if she could.
"Look, if I could turn back the clock and and do things differently at that time, I absolutely would," she said. "But based on the information that I had in front of me, I focused on the systemic fix, because there was, seemingly every single week, there was a new one of these cases that was popping up, most of which happened before I became mayor. But because they were popping up on my watch, I wanted to do something to fix them."
Lightfoot highlighted new search warrant protocols that took effect in January 2020 and noted it's now a "daily topic of conversation" with her staff and the Chicago police superintendent.
"I believe that we're going to get to a better place. And I believe that Miss Young will be part of that work of getting us to a better place," she said.
In the fallout from the raid, Chicago's top attorney resigned, Lightfoot announced an independent investigation, and the 12 officers were placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
Lightfoot and Young met in person last week after a failed attempt at meeting over conflict between the two on how the event should be held - followed by a public forum as Young requested, or without.
Lightfoot on Tuesday said she was "grateful for the opportunity" to speak with Young and apologized to her on behalf of the city.
"I said this over and over again, it remains true: what she went through is absolutely fundamentally unacceptable," Lightfoot said. "She was denied her basic dignity as a human being. And we can't have that. And there has to be accountability for what happened to her."