Chicago police sergeant faces termination over raid of Black social worker

In the Feb. 2019 raid, supervised by Sgt. Alex Wolinski, police officers burst into the wrong home and improperly executed a search warrant.

Sgt. Alex Wolinski is facing dismissal for allegedly violating eight different Chicago Police Department rules after he and other officers raided the wrong home in 2019. 

In the Feb. 21 raid, Chicago Police officers — supervised by Wolinski — burst into the home of Anjanette Young, a social worker, who had just returned home from work. The woman was naked at the time, and she was forced to remain naked in handcuffs for at least 30 seconds, was partially covered with a jacket, then fully covered with a blanket. 

This Dec. 2019 photo shows Chicago Police Supt. David Brown (left) at a press conference, speaking about what its officers must do better, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot (right) awaits her turn. (Photo: Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Young was handcuffed for nearly 17 minutes, according to previous reporting. 

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability recently completed a 16-month investigation into the incident and found more than 100 allegations of wrongdoing and misconduct by the numerous officers involved — more than a dozen officers. 

Police Superintendent David Brown, who was not in charge of the department at the time of the raid, led a revamp of the department’s search warrant protocols once his tenure began. 

On Thursday, Nov. 4, Brown filed disciplinary charges against Wolinski that include, in part, assertions that the sergeant “failed to intervene in the disrespectful treatment” of Young, overseeing the warrant’s delivery with no practice of the knock and announce rule, as well as failing to give Young a copy of the warrant or notify a SWAT team to assist in its execution. 

Tribune reporting says COPA has recommended that seven officers, including Wolinski, be disciplined for the many failures that took place on the scene. The group’s 63-page analysis recommended punishment ranging from a six-month suspension to firing for an officer who reportedly relied on bad information, which led to securing the warrant and, ultimately, to raiding the wrong house. 

The harshest criticism was for Wolinski, who provided a “lack of meaningful and effective supervision,” COPA said.

“As the sergeant leading the search warrant execution, Sergeant Wolinski bears significant responsibility for the failure to comply with the knock and announce rule, as well as the maltreatment of (Young) throughout the incident,” COPA said in its report.

One of the six officers recommended for a three-day suspension was Ella French, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in August. Since her death, the victim’s attorneys praised the officer, who was gunned down on the South Side, noting in a statement that “French was the only officer who showed Ms. Young any dignity or respect on the night of the raid,” allowing her to privately get dressed.

The infamous 2019 raid has been the subject of multiple investigations at Chicago’s City Hall, including one to determine why the city refused to provide a local news station or Young with a copy of the video from the raid. One probe by the inspector general’s office has been concluded, but its findings have not been released. Another is still ongoing, as is Young’s lawsuit against Chicago. She was offered $1 million during a mediation hearing this spring, and she declined the offer, which is less than half of what was paid out to a similar victim. 

At the time of the raid, Lori Lightfoot was president of the Chicago Police Board, appointed by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel; she won the runoff election for mayor in April 2019, two months later. Lightfoot had previously claimed she only learned about the faulty warrant-executing raid in December 2020 via local news reporting. However, according to The Chicago Tribune, she later admitted she had been told about it as early as November 2019 via email. She has, however, maintained that she has no recollection of the emails. 

In a June press conference, Young addressed Mayor Lightfoot directly, saying, “I will continue to fight until I receive the justice that I am due, or until you honor your words when you met with me in December.”

“You said that you would make it whole,” said Young. “Your words carry no weight. I want action, and I want it now.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio podcasts “Dear Culture” or “Acting Up?” Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!