Who was Ella French?
Ella French was a 29-year-old female police officer in Chicago who was killed and another officer was seriously wounded in an exchange of gunfire during a traffic stop, officials said Sunday. The officer killed Saturday night was identified as Ella French, according to a post on the Chicago Police Department’s Facebook page Sunday evening.
Ella French’s death was the first fatal shooting of a Chicago officer in the line of duty since 2018 and the first female officer fatally shot on the job in 33 years.
“We will never forget the true bravery she exemplified as she laid her life down to protect others,” the department said of French on Facebook, adding that fellow officers will “grieve the loss of this hero.” The department also requested support for French’s “wounded partner, who is in the hospital fighting for his life.”
At a Sunday news conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged Chicagoans to end the acrimony between ardent police proponents who say officers are hampered by overly burdensome rules and staunch critics who say officers act with impunity.
How did Ella French die?
Officers had stopped a vehicle with two men and a woman inside just after 9 p.m. on Chicago’s South Side when a male passenger opened fire, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said during the same news conference.
Sources told CBS Chicago that the passenger shot both officers from the back seat of the car.
Officers returned fire, striking the passenger who appeared to fire at them, said, Brown. He did not release the condition of that man. All three are in custody, but no charges had been filed, he said.
Police also did not identify the three who have been arrested.
As CBS Chicago reported, surveillance video from a nearby home shows an officer gets out of his car and walk near the fence. Within 15 seconds, a flurry of officers arrive.
About a minute later, several officers take off down the sidewalk. Shortly after, an ambulance pulls up, a stretcher is brought to the fence, and someone appears to be loaded into the ambulance.
Brown said much of what happened was caught on body camera video, but that video cannot be released yet, CBS Chicago reported. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability will hold an investigation.
When asked about the condition of the injured officer, Brown responded, “Critical. We need your prayers.”
The superintendent said it was too soon to say why the vehicle was stopped and what might have happened just before the shooting began. He said available evidence included police body camera footage. A gun was also recovered at the scene.
A large crowd of officers gathered outside the hospital’s ambulance entrance overnight, some hugging and praying, as Lightfoot first addressed the shooting to reporters nearby. Lightfoot said the officer who died “was very young on the job, but incredibly enthusiastic to do the work.”
The last Chicago officer shot to death in the line of duty was 28-year-old Samuel Jimenez, who was killed after responding to a shooting at a hospital on Nov. 19, 2018.
Two officers, Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo died when they were struck by a train while pursuing a suspect on Dec. 17, 2018. The department also considers the COVID-19 deaths of four officers last year’s line-of-duty deaths.
The last female officer shot to death in the line of duty was Irma Ruiz, who was shot inside an elementary school in 1988.
Ella French’s brother, Andrew French, told the Chicago Sun-Times that his sister “always wanted to make a difference.”
“I was never surprised when she said she was going to be a sheriff and then a cop. It just made sense,” he added.
Andrew French said their mother, who adopted both siblings, instilled in them the importance of kindness and helping others. “She raised us to be of service. To care. To have integrity,” he said.
His sister was not married and didn’t have any children, he added, contrary to reports on social media.
She and an unidentified male officer were shot after officers stopped a vehicle with two men and a woman inside in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side at around 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Some Facts About Ella French
- She lived in Waukegan, Illinois.
- She was not married and had no children.
- Her older brother Andrew French is an Iraq War veteran.
- She was a humanitarian and a proponent of therapy or social services over more jail time, according to Andrew.
- She loved to travel with her mother.
- In April 2018, she joined the Chicago Police Department.
- She was assigned to the Chicago Police Department’s community safety team working with the gun task force.
- In 2018, her annual salary was $32,052.
- In 2019, her annual salary was $62,419.
- In 2020, her annual salary was $73,136.
- On August 7, 2021, she was fatally shot during a traffic stop in West Englewood, Chicago.
- She died at the age of 29.
- She is the fifth female Chicago Police Department officer to be killed while on duty.
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