Chicago Police Officer Ella French visitation attended by thousands

French's funeral to be held at St. Rita of Cascia Thursday | Watch on ABC7 starting at 10 a.m.

ByKaren Jordan, Liz Nagy, and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, August 19, 2021
CPD Officer Ella French visitation attended by thousands
EMBED <>More Videos

A line of mourners thousands deep wrapped around the perimeter of a South Side chapel to pay their respects to Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There were emotional tributes Wednesday as thousands gathered to pay their respects to fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

Just three years into her police career, French was killed and her partner was critically injured during a traffic stop earlier this month. Her casket made its way to the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, where it was greeted by her fellow officers outside of St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel.

Casket carrying Officer French arrives for visitation

As the day wore on, a line of mourners thousands deep wrapped around the perimeter of the South Side chapel.

Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, and city politicians came to personally thank the French family. Though her time on the police force was short, French worked in some of Chicago's most violent South Side neighborhoods.

People there already miss her.

"We loved her in our community and I hope that justice is served," Englewood resident Lori Kilgore said. "I could just feel the love and compassion and to be able to shake hands with the mom and the brother did a lot for me today."

So many came in uniform - though not necessarily a Chicago police uniform. As officers and deputies and firefighters often say, there's a bond behind the badge.

"I know these are hard times for the city and we just wanted to show respect from Passaic, New Jersey," Officer Miguel Garcia said.

"It's sort of sad the only time we get to see some of our coworkers from other districts, other units or even from the academy, is in situations like this," said Officer Maria Guzman, who works in CPD's traffic unit.

"Traffic is the most dangerous thing being a police officer, and for that to happen to one of our own, and one of the young ones, it was extremely hurtful," added Officer Ronda Pressley, who also works in the traffic unit.

Law enforcers pay tribute to Officer French

Retired CPD officer Stephanie Jordan offered her condolences to French's family, too.

"Somber, people just trying to hold their composure for the family, show their respect," Jordan said, adding that she was the same age as the fallen 29-year-old when she joined the department.

Many had never met the 29-year-old, but still feel the impact of her loss, like Detective Joe Bowes, a 26-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He came early to see the casket arrive at the church and made sure he brought his children.

"They hear about the bad things every once in a while happen with one of us, but every day, there are people like Officer French out there sacrificing and doing good for these communities that are in a lot of trouble," Bowes said.

French was killed and her partner, Officer Carlos Yanez, was critically injured in a shooting while conducting a traffic stop in West Englewood earlier this month. Two brothers have been charged in the shooting.

French had been with the department three years, and in that short time earned commendations and honorable mentions. Both officers were honored at a vigil Tuesday night.

"It tears at your heart because these people, the public, I don't think understands what these people in the uniforms do every day," Bowes said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was among the hundreds of fellow law enforcers and public servants paying their respects to the fallen officer.

"We have to come together as a unit and a city, especially with all the turmoil going on within the city," said Dept. Dist. Chief Frank Velez, Chicago Fire Department

Father Dan Brandt said French's death has been traumatic for fellow officers.

"There are a lot of hurting souls out there right now, and we're doing our best to bring comfort and peace," he said.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the same church. ABC7 will stream the funeral live on and wherever you stream. The internment is private.

SEE MORE: Chicago police officer Ella French funeral plans announced, another vigil held

Two people are charged in the shooting. Emonte Morgan, 21, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. His brother Eric Morgan, 22, is charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and obstruction of justice.

Police say Emonte Morgan both killed French and shot her partner three times during the Aug. 7 Englewood traffic stop. His brother, Eric Morgan, police said, was driving the car the officers had pulled over for expired tags.

Emonte, also known as "Monte," and Eric Morgan were both ordered held without bond. Emonte did not appear in court; he is hospitalized at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn after police shot him after the shootings of French and her partner.

French was one of the officers who took a 1-month-old baby and her mother to the hospital on July 2 when the baby was shot in the head during an Englewood shooting.

RELATED: Chicago shooting: 1-month-old shot in head among 7 wounded in Englewood

The baby's uncle said French actually drove to the hospital herself, and that the family wanted to thank her. He said his niece is now doing well, and the family is very grateful for the outcome.

French was also present at the botched 2019 Chicago police raid of Anjanette Young's home, but Young said French was the only one to show her dignity and respect during the incident.

French joined the Chicago Police Department in 2018 after previously working with the Cook County Sheriff's Office.

She is the first female Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty since 1988. This is also the first time a CPD officer has died in the line of duty since Mayor Lori Lightfoot took office.

"A mother lost her daughter last night," Lightfoot said. "A brother, his sister. A family, forever shattered. Another continues to keep vigil at a hospital bed, sending up powerful prayers but no doubt fearing the worst."

Traffic alert

From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Harlem Avenue traffic will be affected due to the French family procession, officials said.

The procession will pass south on Harlem from Interstate 55 to 79th Street sometime between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. It will then proceed east on 79th Street.

The Bridgeview Police and Fire departments will gather in the Niko's Parking Lot at 75th Street and Harlem to pay their respects. Bridgeview residents are welcome to join the departments there.