Chicago dispatcher praised for handling of fatal officer shooting

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A 911 dispatcher working the night Chicago police officer Ella French was fatally shot is receiving praise for his quick thinking that likely saved her partner’s life.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago police Supt. David Brown on Monday thanked Keith Thornton Jr. for his efforts. The gesture comes after thousands shared Ian Matthew Lopez’s post acknowledging Thornton’s handling of the fatal shooting on social media.

“I just want to make sure he knows our city is proud of him,” Lopez said. “He’s very humble. He has a huge heart. He wants to help people.”

As an EMT and former police officer, Thornton is familiar with the streets of Chicago. Last Saturday night, as a chaotic scene unfolded, the calm voice charged with getting Ella French and her partner to the hospital as soon as possible was heard loud and clear.

“I want a perimeter set up north, south, east, west,” Thornton said in scanner traffic radio obtained by WGN. “We’ve got to get them to a trauma center, guys.”

His quick thinking is being credited for saving the lives of more officers and helping law enforcement on the streets quickly apprehend the suspects.

“It’s just second nature to him,” Lopez said.

On Monday, Thornton posted to social media, saying, “Even though this catastrophe took place under my watch, and as devastating as it was, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.”

Thornton said he wants the attention he’s received to bring people together.

“Our police officers who are hurting each and every day because many of them feel unsupported, unloved, and on edge,” Thorton said. “No one wants to live like this and no one should have to work like this.”

“Get out of your car, stop midway through your jog or walk, and make a purposeful effort to show my brothers and sisters in blue YOUR LOVE for them.”

Thorton was asked to hold off on taking part in official interviews but said he is humbled by all the attention. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) will formally recognize Thorton at a later date. Thorton said he hopes to meet personally with Ella French’s family to pay his respects. 

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