Day of the Dead altar honors fallen CPD Officer Ella French

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Police Department Officer Ella French may be gone, but she is not forgotten as the community celebrates and remembers her in a special way.

The sidewalk in front of the Chicago Police Department's 8th district has been transformed as the community gathers to remember the fallen officer during a Day of the Dead celebration.

"Keeping her name out there, remembering everything she was about - it's good to see," said Commander Bryan Spreyne, CPD 8th District.

RELATED: 'She died living her passion': Officer Ella French's mother opens up about losing daughter

The remembrance is led by Keith Thornton, the emergency dispatcher who was on duty when Officer French was killed back in August.

"[I] never met her one time, but I feel like I know her just about more than anyone here," he said.

The West Side native, who is a former South Central Los Angeles cop and EMT/firefighter, has been credited with helping to save the life of French's partner, Officer Carlos Yanez Junior, by helping officers on the scene get him to the nearest trauma center.

"I snapped into dimension where I thought I was out there in the street running with these guys and the only thing happy about those days was catching those who murdered my sister and shot my brother," Thornton said.

In keeping with the Latin tradition, Thornton built an ofrenda, or tribute, to Officer French.

It sits just blocks from where she lost her life.

"You make the altar, and you put their pictures and things that they loved to eat or things that they loved, and you remember them," said Juanita Ariola, with the Helen and Joe Foundation.

RELATED: Fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French laid to rest after being killed in line of duty
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Thousands gather at St. Rita of Cascia Chapel for the funeral of Chicago Police Officer Ella French.



One by one, they honor their hero.

"We're the same age [and] I'm addicted to iced coffee as well, so you know I definitely saw her in myself," said Chicago Police Officer Alexis Interrante.

Sara Trevino brought her two daughters to see the tribute.

"I'm just here to show my daughters the importance of celebrating somebody's life, remembering her [and] bringing honor to her," she said.

The ofrenda will be up for the next day or two in hopes of helping both the community and the department heal as they remember Officer Ella French.
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