Chicago Woman Who Was Handcuffed Naked Receives $2.9 Million Settlement
The Chicago City Council approved a settlement on Wednesday for Anjanette Young, a medical social worker who was forced to stand naked in front of a dozen police officers in 2019.,
Chicago’s City Council approved a $2.9 million settlement on Wednesday for a woman who was forced to stand naked in front of a dozen police officers who, in February 2019, burst into her apartment to execute a search warrant.
The officers handcuffed the woman, Anjanette Young, a medical social worker, on the evening of Feb. 21, 2019, after they used a battering ram to enter her home.
Ms. Young, who is Black, stood naked for several minutes, screaming at the officers, all of them men and most of them white, that they had the wrong house. The police, who had been searching for a man with a gun, later learned that the person they were looking for had not lived in the apartment for at least four years.
The City Council voted 48 to 0 to approve the settlement on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
Alderwoman Jeanette B. Taylor of Chicago’s 20th Ward said, “2.9 million may seem like a lot, but it will never give Ms. Young back her dignity and respect and the trust that she’s lost.”
She added, “Let’s do something different about how we do house raids and how we treat women, how we treat young people.”
Soon after the incident, Ms. Young hired a lawyer and asked the city for a financial settlement and discipline for the officers. The request led to a protracted legal struggle with the city, which moved to dismiss lawsuits, filed by Ms. Young in state and federal courts, and tried to block the release of footage of the raid.
Ms. Young eventually acquired the video, and a local news station, WBBM-TV, broadcast it in December 2020. The footage showed several officers in tactical gear, their weapons drawn, storming into the house and yelling “search warrant” as Ms. Young stood naked and terrified.
The report drew national attention and shocked city officials. Police leaders acknowledged that the officers had made a mistake.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot apologized publicly to Ms. Young and said she had not seen footage of the raid until the station broadcast the video.
“Knowing that my words will not change what happened to you and your family almost two years ago, I nonetheless say I am sorry,” Mayor Lightfoot said at a news conference in December. “If you can hear that my voice is hoarse, it is because I have been unsparing in my comments to all involved in this colossal mess.”
Last month, David O. Brown, the superintendent of the department, recommended that the sergeant who led the raid be discharged, and a police oversight agency recommended suspensions for several officers involved in the raid.
At least some of the officers are appealing those recommendations, according to the department. A police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ms. Young, 51, said that after the raid she began taking medication to treat depression and PTSD and eventually lost her job.
“My life before was just a quiet life,” Ms. Young said this month in an interview with a contributing Opinion writer for The New York Times. “I lived a very quiet and simple life, and now my life has been completely turned upside down. I can’t sleep at night.”
City officials and lawyers for Ms. Young at Saulter Law, an Illinois firm, said they agreed on the settlement amount.
Ms. Young still wants “the strictest discipline” for the officers who violated their training, the department’s general orders and “basic human decency in their interactions with her,” according to a statement released by Saulter Law on Wednesday.
“No amount of money could erase what Ms. Young has suffered,” the statement said. “No amount of money could provide Ms. Young with what she truly wants — which is to never have been placed in this situation in the first place.”
Ms. Young is also pushing the city to pass an ordinance named for her that would enact a series of reforms, including a ban on no-knock warrants and measures that bar officers from pointing firearms at children. She is also seeking to prevent officers from obtaining search warrants based on tips from informants whose incorrect information had led to botched raids in the past.
In Ms. Young’s case, the police had obtained a search warrant for a first-floor apartment on the West Side of Chicago. They were looking for a handgun that belonged to a man who, the police had been told by a confidential informant, lived at Ms. Young’s address, according to city officials and court documents.
The man, however, had not lived there for years. Ms. Young had been living in the apartment for four years and did not know the person, according to the federal lawsuit she filed.
The police did not try to verify that they had the correct address and instead relied on the word of the confidential informant, according to the lawsuit.
On the night of the raid, Ms. Young was settling into bed after a long day at work. She poured a glass of wine and took off her clothes as she got ready to watch an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
That was when the officers stormed inside, shining flashlights and demanding that she put her hands in the air.
The footage, which came from the officers’ body cameras, showed Ms. Young screaming and crying in her living room as the officers asked whether a gun was in the house.
“I’m a social worker,” she said in the video. “I follow the law.”
Ms. Young told them they had the wrong house.
“You don’t have to shout,” one of the officers said.
“I don’t have to shout? This is ridiculous,” Ms. Young said, using an expletive. “You’ve got me in handcuffs. I’m naked and you kicked my house in.”
Some officers tried to cover her with a blanket, but it kept slipping off her shoulders because her hands were bound behind her back. After several minutes, a female officer arrived and took her to another room so she could get dressed.
The sergeant apologized “profusely” that night, according to a member of the city’s finance committee, which voted on Monday to recommend approval of the settlement.
Raymond Lopez, an alderman on the finance committee, said he voted “reluctantly” to recommend the approval.
“My heart of hearts tell me that this is insufficient,” he said on Monday, just before the finance committee took the vote. “I believe that we owed her more for the horrible way in which she was treated that day.”