SOUTH SHORE — The activist who fought for the release of videos of a Chicago police officer running over Martina Standley with a police SUV in 2019 had to go to court to get the city to turn them over.
A judge ordered them to be turned over in August, but it wasn’t until November — a full year after the incident — that the city released uncensored footage from the incident that injured severely Standley, records show. Activist William Calloway made the videos public last week.
The videos, comprised of footage from body cameras worn by police officer Brian K. Greene Jr. and his partner, Maceo C. Taylor, show Standley laying in the street, bleeding from her head and her leg crushed under the SUV’s tire. It was at least eight minutes before paramedics arrived to treat Standley Nov. 13, 2019, near 71st Street and Jeffery Avenue in South Shore.
Upon finding 32-year-old Standley on the ground, the officer driving the marked SUV said to her, “Girl, ain’t nobody hit you like that.” And then, with blood visible around her head and her leg under the car’s tire, he said, “Oh, s—. F—,” according to the video.
When asked about the year-long battle to make the videos public, Mayor Lori Lightfoot denied the city fought the release of the footage.
But court records and documents released by Calloway’s legal team show the battle stretched on for more than a year.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
A Fight In Court
Calloway submitted a public records request Nov. 19, 2019, seeking dash cam and body cam footage of the incident that critically injured Standley six days earlier.
The city did not respond to the request within the five-business-day deadline required by law. The Chicago Police Department maintained its failure to respond “was inadvertent,” according to a judge’s order.
On Dec. 10, 2019, Calloway filed a complaint with the court.
On Jan. 17, 2020 — nearly two months after Calloway filed his request – police denied it.
It wasn’t until nine months later that a Cook County judge intervened and forced the city to provide the footage. In the interim, the Police Department argued in court publicizing the footage would threaten the integrity of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s investigation into the incident.
In an Aug. 21 order, Circuit Court Judge Alison Conlon rejected the city’s arguments and required the tapes to be turned over to Calloway within 14 days.
“If CPD’s position is accepted as true, all police records would be exempt for all ongoing investigations, which is contrary to the plain language of” the Freedom of Information Act, Conlon said in the order.
The department released the requested footage Sept. 15 — 11 days after the judge’s deadline — after Calloway agreed to give the city more time to produce the videos, Calloway’s attorney Merrick Wayne said.
But the back-and-forth between Calloway’s lawyers and city lawyers continued for two more months after the city released censored videos which concealed some of the incident’s most critical moments.
The graphic footage showing Standley’s leg pinned under the SUV for several minutes was blurred out in the city’s Sept. 15 release “due to privacy concerns,” a city spokesperson said.
Public records laws allow information to be withheld from Freedom of Information Act responses if its release would be a “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Such information may include, but is not limited to, graphic photos of alleged crimes or dead bodies undergoing an autopsy, according to guidelines from the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
Because the city invoked the personal privacy exemption, Standley’s permission was needed to show her severe injuries without blurring them.
Even though Standley consented to have footage of her gruesome injuries released, Calloway pressed for weeks to obtain uncensored videos from the cameras of all responding officers to the scene. Emails between Calloway and his attorney, Wayne, show them discussing police officials resisting their requests to re-process all available footage of her injuries.
“Apparently, CPD … has to re-process the records entirely and redact all of the portions that are still exempt,” like blurring out bystanders, Wayne wrote Calloway Oct. 28, more than two months after the judge ordered the videos to be released. “Given that and because most of the footage … [shows] the same thing from a different angle, CPD wants to know if you are willing to narrow the reprocessing of the body cam footage to select officers.”
Calloway initially said he wanted to continue pushing for all available footage. But after Wayne wrote Calloway on Nov. 19, saying the Police Department didn’t “want to budge and reprocess all of the videos,” Calloway agreed to narrow his request.
After securing Standley’s permission to publicize her graphic injuries, and after Calloway agreed to narrow his request, the city released unredacted videos from Greene Jr. and Taylor’s body cameras Nov. 25, three months after the court order. This is the footage that became public last week.
In a police report submitted hours after the incident and included in the city’s Sept. 15 Freedom of Information Act response, Greene Jr. accused Standley of banging on the police car’s window and twisting its spotlight before he ran her over. The video shows Standley twisting the headlight.
Greene Jr. told the investigating officer “his intention was to reverse out of the way … for a potential mental health transport,” but the SUV “inched forward instead, and she disappeared,” the report reads.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Greene Jr. and Taylor’s full names are identified in the same police report. Greene Jr. is named as the driver and a suspect in the investigation, while Taylor is named as a witness.
The officer’s last names match those on the filenames of videos provided to Block Club last week. In addition, the officer wearing the body camera in the “Greene” file repeatedly identifies his partner as “Taylor” to other officers in the footage.
Chicago police spokesman Luis Agostini did not respond to Block Club’s requests to confirm the officers’ identities. The officers involved remain on active duty as a 14-month-long COPA investigation continues, Agostini said.
Agostini declined to comment further.
Standley is still recovering from major head and leg injuries nearly 14 months after the officer ran her over, said Andrew M. Stroth, an attorney for Standley’s family.
A lawsuit filed days after Standley was injured against the Police Department and the officer who hit her is pending in state court, Stroth said. The suit alleges the officer, who is not identified in court documents, intentionally “weaponized his patrol car” against an unarmed Standley.
‘Victims … Should Have Full Access To Materials’
Asked at a Friday press conference why the city fought the release of the videos from the police body cameras even after the court order, Lightfoot denied her administration took any such action.
“Again, we’re just digging into the facts; this is a case that just came to light, for my purposes, recently,” Lightfoot said. “But I don’t believe that that’s an accurate characterization. I think [CPD] and the Law Department have both put out information about that, and I believe that their statements are different than the premise of [the] question.”
It’s unclear what statements Lightfoot was referencing.
A Law Department statement issued last week said officials could not comment on the incident beyond confirming video footage was released to Standley and Calloway in September. The statement does not reveal the video was censored and that unredacted video was released to Calloway at a later date.
Agostini’s statement on behalf of the Police Department did not address Calloway’s Freedom of Information Act request nor the year of litigation surrounding it.
Calloway “vehemently disagrees” with Lightfoot’s claim the city didn’t fight to withhold the footage, he said.
“I wouldn’t need to file a lawsuit if the Chicago Police Department and the city of Chicago didn’t fight the release of the video,” Calloway said. “The facts are in the judge’s [order]. … I can’t believe [Lightfoot] said that.”
Calloway said he gives Lightfoot “the benefit of the doubt” when she claims she only recently learned about the officer running over Standley.
“But we also should let history teach us,” he said, referring to the recent controversy surrounding a botched police raid at Anjanette Young’s home.
Lightfoot initially claimed she first learned about the February 2019 raid — in which Chicago police officers wrongly burst into Young’s home and left her handcuffed and naked in her living room — when she saw it in a CBS 2 report last month. Later that week, she acknowledged she’d known about the incident a year earlier.
Emails released later confirmed city staffers told Lightfoot of the “pretty bad” raid on Young’s home as early as November 2019.
Young’s FOIA request for police video of the raid was denied, and she was only given the videos after filing a federal lawsuit against the city. In response, Lightfoot pledged last month to “change our policies and procedures” and ensure victims seeking information from the city can receive it without filing a public records request.
“Victims like Ms. Young should have full access to materials on matters involving them,” Lightfoot said Dec. 21. “… She should never have had to submit a FOIA request in the first place.”
Calloway said Lightfoot has options for reassuring the public about what she knew and when about what happened to Standley.
Lightfoot “could just release all emails from CPD, the Law Department and the Mayor’s Office regarding Martina,” Calloway said. “We shouldn’t have to FOIA for it. They should just release it. That would give us the best security to believe her.”
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.