By DON BABWIN for the Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Scores of police officers stood to attention as the casket containing the body of a Chicago police officer fatally shot this month was carried into a South Side church for her funeral Thursday morning.
A sea of officers in their dress blue uniforms formed outside St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel as mourners — including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and top department officials and friends and family — filed slowly inside to remember Officer Ella French.
The leader of Chicago’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, Cardinal Blase Cupich, was scheduled to give the homily at the funeral Mass.
Outside, a large American flag waved from atop the ladders of Chicago Fire Department trucks.
The line of mourners entering the church walked past a photo of the smiling French with her dress gloves and baton. The ceremony began about 30 minutes late to accommodate the hundreds of others still waiting in line when the scheduled start time, 10 a.m., arrived.
As happens whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty, the green uniforms of the Illinois State Police, the white hats worn by members of the Chicago Fire Department, and uniforms from departments across the state and beyond were in attendance.
The 29-year-old officer was killed and another officer was critically injured on Aug. 7 when a passenger in a vehicle opened fire during a routine traffic stop for an expired license plate
French is the first member of the department to be killed in the line of duty in nearly three years. She is the fifth female member of the department to die in the line of duty and the first since 1988 — three years before French was born.
Though she is the first officer to be fatally shot in Chicago this year, she was just one of nearly 40 officers who have been fired upon — 11 of whom have been struck by bullets.
The other officer who was shot, Carlos Yanez Jr., remains hospitalized. Though his condition, which was critical for several days, has improved, his father told the Chicago Sun-Times that doctors have thus far not removed two bullets lodged in his brain.
“They can’t,” Carlos Yanez Sr., a retired Chicago police officer, told the paper.
Yanez Jr.’s sister, Nicole Christina, a doctor who is coordinating her brother’s medical team, told the Sun-Times that he lost an eye and has “no movement on left side of his body or his right leg.”
The shooting suspect, 21-year-old Monty Morgan, was shot in the abdomen by a third officer. He has been arrested and is charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer and attempted murder.
His brother, 22-year-old Eric Morgan, who prosecutors say was driving the vehicle, was also arrested. He faces gun charges and an obstruction of justice charge. Both were being held in Cook County Jail without bail.
A third man accused of acting as a straw purchaser to buy the gun used in the shooting faces federal gun charges.