A year after Officer Ella French was killed during a traffic stop, Lightfoot and Pritzker join police officials to honor her memory

“Right here and right now, we take this day back,” Chicago police Supt. David Brown said during the ceremony at police headquarters. “We honor Officer French, who lived, and lift up the lives she touched.”

SHARE A year after Officer Ella French was killed during a traffic stop, Lightfoot and Pritzker join police officials to honor her memory
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A banner for fallen Chicago police officer Ella French at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville during a star enshrinement ceremony, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Chicago police officer Ella French’s star number #15013 was enshrined in Superintendent’s Honored Star Case.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A year after Chicago police officer Ella French was gunned down during a traffic stop in Englewood, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined dozens of police officials for an emotional ceremony honoring her life and service.

Chicago police Supt. David Brown noted that French’s life was tragically cut short by “senseless gun violence” last Aug. 7, when a gunman killed her and critically wounded her partner Carlos Yanez in West Englewood.

“Right here and right now, we take this day back,” Brown said during the “star” enshrinement ceremony at police headquarters. “We honor officer French, who lived, and lift up the lives she touched. We celebrate the impact she made in her district, our department and across this city.”

French’s mother, Elizabeth, said she was “so proud” of her daughter, adding her home is now filled with plaques and awards that hold officer French up as “brave [and] a hero.”

Yet Elizabeth French said others have described her daughter as so much more than that: “intelligent, hardworking, badass, loud, fun, committed, caring.” She added to the list “strong-willed, opinionated and grumpy — if you woke her up too early.”

“But to me, she was Ella Grace, my daughter, my baby girl,” Elizabeth French said. “There are days when I miss her so much that it hurts, but I have all of you to sustain through my heart.”

Elizabeth French, mother of fallen Chicago police officer Ella French, is escorted after a ceremony at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville during a star enshrinement ceremony, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022.

Elizabeth French, mother of fallen Chicago police officer Ella French, is escorted after a ceremony at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville during a star enshrinement ceremony, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

She was joined at the ceremony by Yanez and French’s other partner, Joshua Blas, who fought back tears as he recalled that he and French spoke often about wanting to one day become detectives.

“She was a great person and officer,” he said. “She was fearless, and I always relied on her.”

That fateful night, Blas shot Emonte Morgan, the 22-year-old man who allegedly opened fire on French and Yanez in the 2200 block of West 63rd Street. Blas had heard the initial gunshots and reacted after first chasing down Morgan’s brother, Eric, who ran from the traffic stop.

Emonte Morgan faces a litany of felony charges, including counts of murder and attempted murder, court records show. Eric Morgan, 23, was also charged with various felonies, including unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated battery. Both brothers have pleaded not guilty.

Jemel Danzy, 30, of Hammond, Indiana, became the first person convicted in connection with the shooting when he pleaded guilty late last month to buying a gun for Eric Morgan. Supt. Brown noted Sunday that U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, recently introduced a bill named for French that would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to fund task forces cracking down on so-called straw purchasing and gun trafficking.

For his part, Pritzker lauded French’s integrity, empathy, kindness and compassion, referring to her as “the best of us.” Following her death, individuals who came into contact with officer French similarly credited her soft touch.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about fallen Chicago police officer Ella French at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville during a star enshrinement ceremony, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about fallen Chicago police officer Ella French at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville during a star enshrinement ceremony, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Anjanette Young, a social worker who was the subject of a wrongful police raid in 2019 that French was part of, praised her as the only cop who treated her with “dignity or respect” that night. Andrea Kersten, head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, apologized last November after the police oversight agency recommended a suspension for the late officer in a report on the botched raid.

“Ella Grace French’s strong sense of duty was only rivaled by her love,” Pritzker said. “Her love for her brothers; ... her unending love for her mother, Elizabeth; her love for animals; her love for children that she encountered on and off the job; her love of adventures and heavy doses of laughter.”

Lightfoot added French “will live on in each of us as long as we remember her in our daily prayers and the way in which we go about our daily lives.”

“Though she’s no longer physically with us, her presence [and] her legacy is with us every single day,” she added. “And that is a gift to our entire city.”

Yanez and other police officials added French’s star to one of the cases in the lobby at police headquarters that holds the badges of Chicago cops killed in the line of duty.

“Day in and day out, she did one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs there is to do during one of the most difficult and dangerous times to do it,” Brown said. “But she did the job because she loved it, and she wanted to make a difference.”

Fallen Chicago police officer Ella French’s star at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville during a star enshrinement ceremony, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. French’s star number #15013 was enshrined in the superintendent’s honored star case.

Fallen Chicago police officer Ella French’s star at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville during a star enshrinement ceremony, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. French’s star number #15013 was enshrined in the superintendent’s honored star case.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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