Emonte Morgan found guilty in murder of Chicago Police Officer Ella French

Wednesday, March 6, 2024
Emonte Morgan found guilty in murder of CPD Ofc. Ella French
A jury found Emonte Morgan guilty in the murder of CPD Officer Ella French in 2021, and the attempted murder of her partner, Ofc. Carlos Yanez .

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A jury found Emonte Morgan guilty in the 2021 murder of Chicago Police Officer Ella French and the attempted murder of two other officers on Tuesday evening.

A Chicago jury found Emonte Morgan guilty of the murder of CPD Officer Ella French in 2021, and the attempted murder of her partner.

The jury of seven men and five women, most of whom live in the suburbs, deliberated for 3.5 hours and reached their verdict shortly before 7:30 p.m.

French's mother, Elizabeth, arrived hand-in-hand with her daughter's colleagues for the reading of the verdict. She bowed her head as the guilty verdicts rang out.

In court, 23-year-old Morgan showed no emotion as the jury found him guilty on all counts, convicting him of first-degree murder for French's shooting death and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for wounding CPD Officer Carlos Yañez and opening fire at a third officer, Joshua Blas.

ABC7 Legal Contributor Tony Thedford weighed in after Emonte Morgan was found guilty of the 2021 murder of Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

There was no discernible reaction from Morgan's family.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx spoke after the verdict was delivered on behalf of the team of "brilliant, dedicated attorneys" who prosecuted the case.

"We are incredibly gratified by the jury's verdict today," Foxx said. "But it is difficult to feel anything other than sadness about the senseless murder of a Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty, who laid her life on the line for the people of Cook County only for it to be struck down by senseless violence."

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx spoke after the verdict was delivered on behalf of the team of "brilliant, dedicated" attorneys who prosecuted the case.

"While this is a victory, it is very difficult to feel just, because justice would be Ella French continuing to be with her family and serving the people of Cook County," Foxx added.

Foxx declined to answer directly on Tuesday night whether Morgan's brother, Eric, should have also been tried for first-degree murder.

Eric was also at that traffic stop, but was not the triggerman in the August 2021 shooting. He pleaded guilty to lesser felonies and was sentenced to seven years in prison last October.

The shooting happened in Englewood after a traffic stop as police and Morgan, who had a gun in his waistband, scuffled in the backseat of an SUV.

The jury was shown graphic police body camera video during which, at one point, Morgan is seen with a gun in his hand, stepping around both French and Yañez, who were on the ground.

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

But the defense said based on the bodycam video, it is unclear what exactly happened, arguing that Morgan was trying to drop his gun when it went off during the struggle even though several shots were fired.

"This is a coverup, point blank, period. And I do believe that my son will receive justice. I will not stop. I will continue to fight for my son's justice," Evalena Flores, Morgan's mother, said as she left the courthouse on Tuesday.

During five days of often tearful testimony, the jury heard from French's mother and Yañez, who was, for a time, confined to a wheelchair and still has a bullet in his neck.

"It'll never be the same for Elizabeth. It'll never be the same for the Yañez family or the Blas family or this department, in reality," said Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara.

Morgan now faces a possible life sentence. The parties are due back in court on April 19 for post-trial motions.

ABC7 Legal Contributor Tony Thedford said he expects those motions to include a request for a new trial or for the verdict to be throw out. If those motions are rejected, the hearing could move directly to sentencing.

Ella French trial comes to emotional end

On day five of the trial, which has been full of emotional moments, prosecutors called a Cook County assistant medical examiner to the stand. She testified that she found a bullet and bleeding in the slain officer's brain in August of 2021.

French's mother was escorted out of the courtroom before photos of the autopsy were shown to jurors.

After the medical examiner's testimony, the state rested its case.

Morgan is accused of pulling the trigger, during a traffic stop in Englewood in 2021. French's partner, Yañez, was also shot and seriously hurt.

Prosecutors tried to make the case that Morgan concealed a weapon, and fired the shots that killed French and hit Yañez five times.

"The defendant chose to get out of that car with the gun in his waistband," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Emily Stevens said. "This wasn't an accident. This wasn't a struggle. This was cold-blooded murder."

Morgan's defense presented stipulations late Tuesday morning before also resting.

The defense has argued that the traffic stop shouldn't have happened because the plate was not expired, and there is no evidence showing Morgan firing shots. They contend the gun went off as Yañez and Morgan struggled.

RELATED: 1 of 2 brothers pleads guilty for shortened sentence in CPD Officer Ella French murder case

Morgan said he would not testify in his own defense.

Cook County Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Hodel told jurors Morgan was holding his phone to record the interaction with police.

"We don't see what happened; you can't make a determination if he intentionally did anything," Hodel said.

Closing arguments also took place Tuesday afternoon.

Jurors and those in the courtroom watched bodycam video of the incident several times, and heard from numerous witnesses, including Yañez, throughout the trial.

In the video from Yañez's bodycam, after Yañez was shot and fell to the ground, Morgan can be seen with a weapon in his hand, walking past the fallen officers.

French's mother walked out of court Tuesday with Yañez and Blas.

Morgan's mother was also in attendance Tuesday.

"They're only showing bits and pieces. It's been unfair from the beginning; it's so obvious," Evaleena Flores said.

Throughout the trial, officers have been in court to show support, including the president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"Even if they said it was a bad traffic stop, does that mean you have the ability to execute people? It's just a dumb argument to make," Catanzara said.

Court was not in session Monday because of Casimir Pulaski Day.