Emonte Morgan trial: Mother, former partner of slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French take stand

Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Mom, ex-partner of CPD cop Ella French testify in Emonte Morgan trial
Joshua Blas, an ex-partner of Ella French, police officer killed in 2021 Chicago shooting, took the stand in the Emonte Morgan trial Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Tuesday, for the first time, jurors saw video from the body cameras worn by Chicago police officers as they conducted that ill-fated traffic stop on August 7, 2021.

"Yañez, French, stay with me."

The desperate words of now-Detective Joshua Blas played out in the courtroom on Tuesday morning as prosecutors showed the jury body-worn camera video that captured, from three different perspectives, the moments leading up to the 2021 West Englewood shooting, during which CPD Officer Ella French lost her life, and one of her two partners, Carlos Yañez, was critically injured.

Emonte Morgan is on trial for pulling the trigger that night.

"We will never forget her bravery. We will always carry Ella's legacy with us and her legacy of service. She was exactly what we expect a Chicago police officer to be," said CPD Supt. Larry Snelling.

Speaking during this first day of testimony, Snelling was one of dozens of Chicago police officers who packed the standing-room only courtroom in support of their surviving colleagues and French's mother, Elizabeth, who took the stand briefly as the prosecution's first witness.

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

It was then Blas' turn. He visibly struggled as he recounted what happened, first, as he chased after Morgan's brother, Eric, who ran away during the traffic stop, and then, as he ran back to his squad car and engaged Morgan in an exchange of gunfire.

"I saw Officer Yañez with blood over his face laying down," Blas said. "And right next to, uh, also between the vehicle and the curb was Ella."

While body-worn camera footage shows Morgan stepping over both Yañez and French holding a weapon in the air, it's hard to make out exactly what took place during the in-vehicle struggle between Yañez and Morgan that led to the shots being fired.

"If not for the body cameras there would be a lot bigger questions about what happened that day. Thank God for body cameras," said Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara.

Morgan's mother, insisted on Tuesday, it was not murder.

"Officer Yañez and my son were struggling with his gun. He didn't pull it. It fell out of his waist," said Evalena Flores, Emonte Morgan's mother.

While the body-worn cameras were shown in the courtroom on Tuesday, they have not been released publicly.

RELATED: Jury chosen for Emonte Morgan murder trial, accused of shooting CPD Officer Ella French in 2021

Morgan's mother called for that to take place and for her other son, Eric Morgan, to be called as a witness for the defense. Eric Morgan agreed to a plea deal for a seven-year sentence back in October for his part in the shooting. That deal could result in him serving as little as a year and a half in prison.

The day ended with the former girlfriend of Morgan's brother taking the stand.

The judge also warned Morgan's mother to conduct herself properly or she would be found in contempt of court.

The warning came after the judge said Flores posted fliers around the courthouse in support of her son, and wore a T-shirt supporting him. Flores was wearing that same T-shirt during opening statements on Tuesday.

Court wrapped up on Tuesday afternoon. Testimony will resume on Wednesday morning with Yañez expected to take the stand, although it has been made clear there is much he does not remember of that day.