While there are those who feel the Defund the Police movement and slogan is too radical and too harsh, it seems that every day the evidence of police incompetence and abuse of power—despite billion-dollar budgets—mounts every day.
This week, local Chicago news has drawn national attention to a story that is nearly two years old, involving Anjanette Young, an innocent Chicago woman, who was handcuffed naked in her own apartment after police busted into her apartment and searched it for guns that were not there.
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According to CBS 2, Young recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request for police body camera footage from the incident. While the Chicago Police Department initially denied her request, their ruling was overturned after a court ruled that they turn it over in Young’s lawsuit against the police department.
Now, Young wants the world to see what she endured.
She told CBS 2, “I feel like they didn’t want us to have this video because they knew how bad it was. They knew they had done something wrong. They knew that the way they treated me was not right.”
Lawyers for the city tried to stop the video from airing on local news and tried to file an emergency motion in federal court.
So what’s in this video that the cops and the city don’t want you to see?
On February 21, 2019, nine police officers broke down the door to Young’s apartment with a battering ram and entered it at around 7 pm—as she was undressing after a day at the hospital as a social worker.
Young said, “It was so traumatic to hear the thing that was hitting the door. And it happened so fast, I didn’t have time to put clothes on.”
With guns drawn, they yelled, “Police search warrant. Hands up, hands up, hands up.”
Young compiled, standing there completely naked.
“There were big guns. Guns with lights and scopes on them. And they were yelling at me, you know, put your hands up, put your hands up.”
Officers handcuffed a naked Young as they searched the apartment.
In the video, you can hear Young attempting to ask the officers why they’ve broken into her home.
“What is going on? There’s nobody else here. I live alone. I mean, what is going on here? You’ve got the wrong house. I live alone.”
The police tell her to relax. Eventually, one of the officers tries to cover her but because her hands are behind her back in the cuffs, the jacket and then blanket keeps sliding off. Eventually, an officer wearing a mask obscuring his face stands next to Young to hold the blanket closed.
But the nakedness was the least of Young’s worries with nine armed officers in her apartment.
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“It’s one of those moments where I felt I could have died that night. Life if I would have made one wrong move, it felt like they would have shot me. I truly believe they would have shot me.”
She would have been yet another innocent Black woman murdered by the police operating on false information.
Later, in the body camera footage, we learn that police didn’t verify the address they were given before getting the search warrant approved. Furthermore, they were, like Young said, in the wrong place. The police made no additional efforts to verify the address given by an informant who claimed to know where the suspect lived. The police did not conduct any surveillance or additional checks—as required by policy.
In other body camera footage two officers have a conversation saying that the warrant itself may have been in question. In the footage you can hear officers saying:
“It wasn’t initially approved or some crap.”
“What does that mean?” a second officer asks.
“I have no idea,” the first said. “I mean, they told him it was approved, then I guess the person messed up on their end.”
The suspect they were looking for lived in Young’s complex. Not only had he already been apprehended by authorities, he was wearing a monitoring device to prevent him from leaving his home.
During the twenty minutes which she was detained, Young told the officers 43 times that they had the wrong home. She repeatedly asked them to allow her to get dressed. 13 minutes into the 20 minutes detainment, a female officer walked Young to her room where she was allowed to put some clothes on.
Keenan Saulter, Young’s attorney said, “If this had been a young woman in Lincoln Park by herself in her home naked, a young white woman — let’s just be frank – if the reaction would have been the same? I don’t think it would have been. I think [officers] would have saw that woman, rightfully so, as someone who was vulnerable, someone who deserved protection, someone who deserved to have their dignity maintained. They viewed Ms. Young as less than human.”
In her quest to learn why the police were in her apartment, one of the officers told her, “You don’t have to shout.”
Young said, “I don’t have to shout? This is f*cking ridiculous. You’ve got me in handcuffs. I’m naked, and you kicked my house in. I keep telling you, you’ve got the wrong place.”
Young said later in an interview, “When I asked them to show me, when I asked them to tell me what they are doing in my house, and their response to me was just, shut up and calm down, that’s so disrespectful.”
Eventually, the sergeant told the officer who was granted the warrant that they needed to step outside. When the two men left Young’s apartment, they cut the body camera off.
After twenty minutes, the sergeant returned and apologized to Young.
“I do apologize for bothering you tonight. I assure you that the city will be in contact with you tomorrow…Is there anything I can do right now?”
Through tears, Young told him, “Just leave and let me move on, this is so crazy.”
On their way out officers attempted to fix Young’s door. It didn’t work so they wedged an ironing board in between the door to keep other people from getting into her apartment.
Though the incident happened in 2019, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) did not launch an investigation or contact Young until nine months later.
Now, more than a year later, COPA said they are still in the process of serving allegations and conducting necessary officer interviews.
Meanwhile, Young is still living with the trauma of not feeling safe in her own home. In order to cope, she said she’s leaned on church for healing and support. She also believes it is her responsibility to speak out about what happened to her.
In her interview with CBS 2, donning a shirt with Breonna Taylor’s face on it—another young Black woman who didn’t survive the erroneous and unlawful police raid, Young said, “The work is warranted-they need to do the work. But they need to do it right. They can’t just callously do it and leave people’s lives in ruins because they got it wrong.”
You can watch the surveillance video from the incident below.
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