Long lines to mourn slain Officer Ella French: ‘This is a sad day for Chicago’

‘I started around the time she did, and I had so many encounters where that could’ve been me,’ said a retired Chicago police officer who was among more than 1,000 people who attended French’s wake.

SHARE Long lines to mourn slain Officer Ella French: ‘This is a sad day for Chicago’
Police officers walk together to the visitation for Officer Ella French at St Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel at 7740 S. Western Ave. on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

Police officers walk together to the visitation for Officer Ella French at St Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel at 7740 S. Western Ave. on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Over a thousand people walked into St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel Wednesday to pay respects to slain Chicago police Officer Ella French.

The event was heavily policed with roads blocked near the Southwest Side church as a Chicago Fire Department truck hung a large American flag from its aerial ladder.

The service brought out police officers and other first-responders from across the state as well as civilians offering their condolences in person.

French was just a few weeks shy of her 30th birthday when she was shot and killed during a traffic stop in West Englewood earlier this month. Her partner was wounded during the shooting.

A screen honoring Officer Ella French is displayed outside her visitation Wednesday at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, 7740 S. Western Ave.

A screen honoring Officer Ella French is displayed outside her visitation Wednesday at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, 7740 S. Western Ave.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Those who came out of the service described a somber feeling inside, but also a sense of peace. Mario Ponce and Abel Mercado both worked with French when she was a Cook County sheriff’s correctional officer. They said they were heartbroken to have to visit one of their own at such a young age.

“You could feel the energy from her just looking down on law enforcement and other first responders,” Ponce said. “It was a sad moment, but it was good to see everyone come together as one to support not only her, but her family.”

Stephanie Jordan, a retired Chicago police officer of over 22 years, said she related to French, having joined the department at about the same age as French.

“I have so many mixed feelings, so many mixed emotions. You really can’t put a price on life. It’s like ‘poof’ and you’re gone,” Jordan said. “It makes me think about my career because I started around the time she did and I had so many encounters where that could’ve been me.

“Her family has my deepest condolences, and I will keep them in my prayers forever,” Jordan said.

Several Chicago City Council members also paid their respects during visitation, including Ald. George Cardenas (12th), Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th).

“I wanted to show my support and my gratitude for a police officer that paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of its citizens,” Villegas said. “There was a lot of camaraderie inside there, reminding me of when I was in the Marines. But make no mistake: there was a lot of sorrow. This is a sad day for Chicago.”

French’s funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Rita of Cascia, 7740 S. Western Ave.

Officers arrive at the visitation Wednesday for slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

Officers arrive at the visitation Wednesday for slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The Latest
The woman, whose age is unknown, was located about 4:50 p.m. Monday in the 10700 block of South Edbrooke Avenue.
NFL
Rodgers recently revealed that he took ayahuasca trips to Peru in 2020 and 2021. Ayahuasca is a psychedelic plant liquid.
The boy was shot in the back and taken to a hospital in fair condition, police said.