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City Council members upset police watchdog agency aired past disciplinary findings against slain Officer Ella French

“Despicable,” said Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th). “Ella French was a hero.”

A Chicago police officer wore a button commemorating slain Officer Ella French at her funeral. French was fatally shot and her partner was critically wounded while in the line of duty on Aug. 7 in West Englewood.
A Chicago police officer wore a button commemorating slain Officer Ella French at her funeral. French was fatally shot and her partner was critically wounded while in the line of duty on Aug. 7 in West Englewood.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Cops and City Council members say they’re outraged Chicago’s police watchdog released a report saying Officer Ella French — killed during a traffic stop in August — violated department policies back in 2019.

In a news release Wednesday, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability announced a recommendation that the police department fire Sgt. Alex Wolinski for overseeing a raid on the wrong home that resulted in social worker Anjanette Young being handcuffed while she was naked.

Also Wednesday, COPA released its report on the findings of its investigation into the raid.

The report said COPA had sustained allegations against French for failing to activate a body-worn camera when she showed up after the South Side raid – and didn’t fill out a form as required.

COPA had recommended a three-day suspension for French, according to the report.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, said a COPA outreach coordinator told him Thursday the report was completed in April, four months before French was gunned down in the line of duty.

The report wasn’t publicly released until this week because of a lengthy review by top police officials, Taliaferro said.

Still, the Council member said COPA should have stricken French’s name and recommended punishment.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th).
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th).
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“It’s in bad taste that her name is in it,” said Taliaferro, a former Chicago police sergeant.

Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th), whose Far Southwest Side ward is home to hundreds of officers, said he couldn’t believe COPA besmirched French’s name posthumously.

“They wonder why no one wants to serve as a member of the Chicago Police Department anymore. Another assault like this, despicable. Ella French was a hero,” he said.

COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said a city ordinance prohibited the agency from redacting information about French.

“Following the review and concurrence by the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, as well as serving of administrative charges, we carefully considered the release of the report and its impact on Ms. Anjanette Young and Ella French’s family,” Eaddy said in an email. “We honor the service Officer French gave to our city and mourn her death and also hope the release of the report brings further closure to Ms. Anjanette Young.”

Days after French’s death on Aug. 7, even Young had praised French for her conduct.

On Aug. 11, Young released a statement saying French was the only officer who showed her “dignity and respect.”

French “assisted Ms. Young and allowed her to get dressed, in the privacy of her bedroom,” the statement said.

Anjanette Young.
Anjanette Young.
Pat Nabong /Sun-Times

French, 29, was fatally shot and her partner Carlos Yanez Jr. critically wounded after they pulled over an SUV with expired plates at 63rd Street and Bell Avenue. Yanez, who lost an eye, was released from a rehabilitation center last month.

Emonte Morgan is charged with shooting French and Yanez. His brother is also charged.

COPA’s release of French’s disciplinary findings compounds the frustration and anger that many rank-and-file officers have toward the city.

They’ve been at odds over the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate along with many other issues, including the city announcing that officers will get their retroactive pay from their new contract after Christmas.