Police, supporters from around country attend fallen CPD officer's funeral

Thousands say goodbye to fallen CPD Officer Ella French at funeral

Thursday, August 19, 2021
Funeral for fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French
Funeral for fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Police officers from around the country and their supporters ascended on the funeral of Chicago Police Officer Ella French, offering their condolences to her family and colleagues, and also showing support for men and women in uniform.

"They are not our number one enemy," said South Loop resident Jason Booth.

Booth was one of many who came to watch the police procession.

Officer Ella French funeral procession arrives for visitation

The casket carrying fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French arrives at St. Rita of Cascia ahead of a visitation Wednesday.

"I think what they do is important and it's necessary, and it's one of the toughest jobs -- that for some reason we don't respect. And I'm just out here supporting them," he added.

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

If you looked around St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, you would see support from coast to coast. Ten members of the Jersey City Police Department came to the service to pay their respects.

RELATED: Emotional tribute held for fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French, who 'genuinely loved people'

"Just comfort and be here together. It's all about support," said Detective John Boamah with the Jersey City Police Department.

Others had traveled from the West Coast as well, including officers from Oregon and California.

"I come all the way from California," said Modesto Police Officer Luis Arroyo. "That bond that we have with each other, it's indescribable. Everyone treats you like family."

Officer Amy Youngberg and her colleague came from Portland, Oregon.

"Being a community, being together, and seeing people are feeling the way we are feeling on opposite ends of the nation is really uplifting," she said.

It was a family of blue from the coasts, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, and Indiana. All of them understanding that a final farewell for Officer French is final.

Law enforcers pay tribute to Officer French

Chicago police Officer Ella French's casket was greeted by hundreds of her fellow officers attending the visitation at St. Rita of Cascia.

"Be willing to lay everything down, even to the point of laying down our lives for our great community members, that's why I'm here. That why we're here,' said Chicago Police Officer Jorge Muñoz.

Muñoz was with his wife and 8-year-old daughter, who is the youngest of seven children.

"I've always felt it's important that they see what's happening," said Muñoz's wife, Andrea. "That they know what's going on. It's a part of being supportive."

"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.

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.

RELATED: Surveillance video shows traffic stop before fatal shooting of CPD Officer Ella French; 2 charged

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.

Outside St. Rita, they endured humidity and heat, and then pounding rain. But the weather wasn't what mattered today, as they endured the condition to honor Officer French.

"I personally have a daughter in this business about her age, so it was important for me to stand on the sidelines and watch this happen. We're not bad people," said Superintendent Doug Carter with Indiana State Police.

"It's a tough line of work, and we're all here for each other, added Sheboygan Police Officer Mike Wynveen. "It's nice when the community comes in and shows support for us."

So, even with all the challenges -- the heat and the rain -- they came from all kinds of different communities to be one Thursday, to remember Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

French was killed and her partner, Officer Carlos Yanez Jr., 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.

In her short time on the force, French earned commendations and honorable mentions.

"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 Frank Velez, a department district chief with the Chicago Fire Department.

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

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.

Family remains at the bedside of an officer wounded in a shooting that claimed the life of his partner.

French is survived by her mother and brother.