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Chicago officials tried to block video of police arresting naked woman in botched raid

Anjanette Young was handcuffed and unclothed for more than 30 minutes as she pleaded with officers that they had raided the wrong Chicago home in 2019. (Video: The Washington Post)

It took just a few quick thwacks for police to break down the red door to Anjanette Young’s Chicago townhouse where the 50-year-old hospital social worker was undressing inside and preparing for bed.

In an instant, nearly a dozen armed officers swarmed Young in February 2019 and announced a search warrant as she stood naked, terrified and trying to cover herself with a jacket.

“Oh, my God. This cannot be right,” a stunned Young is heard saying in footage from the body-worn cameras that filmed the raid. “How can this be legal?” she asks. “You got the wrong house!”

Footage first obtained by CBS 2 Chicago shows how Young was handcuffed and unclothed for more than 30 minutes as she pleaded with officers that they had raided the wrong home. More than an hour after police broke down Young’s door, officers realized she was right.

Nearly two years after the botched raid, emergence of video has Young newly hopeful she may finally see some accountability for what happened. But the footage’s long, thorny path into public view has Chicago media and city officials in a familiar position of wrestling over transparency and raising questions of how much has changed — and whether a new mayoral administration will be different — just five years after the scandal of the Laquan McDonald video coverup rocked the city.

On Monday, the city of Chicago filed an emergency motion in federal court to stop CBS Chicago from broadcasting the apparently leaked footage in its Monday broadcast. The city argued airing the video violated a confidentiality agreement, but a federal judge denied the motion, ruling the TV station was not a party to the agreement.

Upon hearing the city was trying to stop the video from being released, Young said she lay in her bed and cried.

“How dare they want to continue to hide this,” Young told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday.

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CBS Chicago learned of Young’s case as part of “[Un]Warranted],” a prolific investigative project into the CPD’s pattern of raiding the homes of innocent families. The series has stretched past two years and already led to some changes in state law this year around how police conduct warrants when children are present.

“We set out for about a year to get what we saw as critical video that would illustrate in an unvarnished way what was taking place,” said Jeff Harris, the vice president and news director for CBS 2 Chicago.

Harris told The Post the investigative team was concerned, but not deterred, by the city’s efforts to stop their reporting.

“As journalists, we’re concerned for Anjanette, because this story is ultimately about her experience and her trauma,” he added. “And so much of her healing is about getting her story out.”

CBS Chicago would not disclose how it obtained the video footage; Young’s attorney, Keenan Saulter, similarly declined to discuss that aspect of the story. The city’s Law Department did not directly implicate Young’s legal team but noted it had the video through a confidentiality agreement. A judge is expected to hold a hearing on the matter in the coming days.

The Chicago Police Department deferred questions to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.

Lightfoot did not directly address the city’s efforts to block the CBS Chicago report in a statement late Tuesday but said she was only just now learning of the incident, which predated her tenure as mayor by several months. Police search warrant policies were updated in January to have tougher standards and more oversight, she added.

Young’s attorney said the changes Lightfoot announced, like independent verification of the location of the property to be served, should have been basic standards in the first place.

According to Young’s 2019 lawsuit against the police department, a confidential informant told police the suspect they were seeking lived at Young’s address. The man actually resided at a nearby address, which Saulter said would have been simple to verify since the man was already under electronic monitoring by the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The failure led to police breaking down Young’s door and handcuffing her while she was naked, leaving her both humiliated and afraid for her life.

“I was afraid to do anything other than what they told me because I believed that they would shoot,Young said.

In the days that followed the raid, she stayed home from work and struggled to tell those in her small, close-knit circle of friends what happened. She found solace in going to church, but little comfort in being home. Loud noises and sirens are still triggering, and she no longer trusts the police department like she used to.

Nearly two years later, Young said she still doesn’t sleep well and can’t even enjoy her once-relaxing Thursday nights watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“The sense of going to bed at night and it being peaceful in my own home, they’ve taken that from me,” she said crying.

In the interim, it’s unclear if the officer involved with the raid will face consequences. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability would only say Tuesday that the case is still under investigation.

Young is continuing to push for accountability, drawing on her faith and the inspiration from her grandmother, a civil rights activist.

I don’t know why God chose me for this assignment,” she said. “But here I am, I own it, I accept it with all of its challenges, with all of the hurt that comes along with it.”

Drea Cornejo contributed to this report.