A sea of officers in their dress blue uniforms formed outside St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel as mourners — including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and top department officials and friends and family — filed slowly inside to remember Officer Ella French.
Outside, a large American flag waved from atop the ladders of Chicago Fire Department trucks.
The line of mourners entering the church walked past a photo of the smiling French with her dress gloves and baton. The ceremony began about 30 minutes late to accommodate the hundreds of others still waiting in line when the scheduled start time, 10 a.m., arrived.
As happens whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty, the green uniforms of the Illinois State Police, the white hats worn by members of the Chicago Fire Department, and uniforms from departments across the state and beyond were in attendance.
Memorial services for the fallen officer were held Wednesday on the city’s Southwest Side. Flags in Illinois are ordered to be raised at half-staff until Thursday evening to remember the life of the 29-year-old officer.
French was killed during a traffic stop on the city’s Southwest Side on Aug. 7. A second officer, her partner Carlos Yanez Jr., was critically injured and remains hospitalized.
He released a video from his hospital room Wednesday. In the video, Yanez thanks everyone for their support and says “I love you all.” Yanez goes on to thank his son and wife.
“I do this all for you,” he said. He ends the video by kissing and waving to them. Yanez Jr.’s GoFundMe has raised over $195,000.
Adopted as a foster child at the age of one, French leaves behind a mother and brother. Her mother told the Chicago Sun-Times she graduated from Downers Grove North High School, but also spent time at Wentworth Military Academy and College in Lexington, Missouri.
After spending one year at the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, French moved to the Chicago Police Department.
The two brothers charged in the fatal shooting of French were ordered to be held without bond.
French started out in the 10th District before moving to the city’s Community Response Team. On July 1, French helped save the life of a 1-month-old baby who was injured in a mass shooting on the South Side.
French’s alleged killer, Emonte Morgan, was on probation in Cook County for robbery, according to NewsNation affiliate WGN. He was previously charged with minor traffic offenses, including leaving the scene, operating a vehicle without a license and driving uninsured. He was also charged with battery and theft in 2019.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended her office’s policies on probation in an interview with NewsNationNow.com’s Leland Vittert.
“There are thousands of people who are on probation every single year,” Foxx said. “What we saw with Ella French was tragic, but for the thousands of others who are on probation who do not pick up a gun, who do not kill in cold blood, to suggest that probation is not the answer I think is a bit short-sighted.”
NewsNation spoke with Sandra Wortham about the gun violence in Chicago. Her brother, a Chicago police officer, was shot to death in 2010. See the interview in the player below.
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