CHICAGO — The funeral for Chicago Officer Ella French, who was gunned down in the line of duty took place Thursday morning, with thousands of people gathering to pay respects to the fallen officer.
Cardinal Blase Cupich presided over her funeral mass.
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, gave 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.
Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago spoke at the funeral, accentuating her kind acts as an officer in her brief career.
“She took the time to know others, to connect with them,” Cupich said.
Retired CPD Captain Terry McMahon was one of hundreds of retired officers from numerous departments to attend French’s funeral.
“I was a 34-year veteran of the police department, a retired Captain, and I think it’s just important to show the respect to her for the sacrifice that she made,” McMahon said.
Officer French was killed during a traffic stop on the city’s Southwest Side on Aug. 7. A second officer, her partner Carlos Yanez Jr., was critically injured and remains hospitalized.
He released a video from his hospital room Wednesday. In the video, Yanez thanks everyone for their support and says “I love you all.” Yanez goes on to thank his son and wife.
“I do this all for you,” he said. He ends the video by kissing and waving to them. Yanez Jr.’s GoFundMe has raised over $195,000.
Adopted as a foster child at the age of one, French leaves behind a mother and brother. Her mother told the Sun-Times she graduated from Downers Grove North High School, but also spent time at Wentworth Military Academy and College in Lexington, Missouri.
After spending one year at the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, French moved to the Chicago Police Department.
The two brothers charged in the fatal shooting of French were ordered to be held without bond.
French started out in the 10th District before moving to the city’s Community Response Team. On July 1, French helped save the life of a 1-month-old baby who was injured in a mass shooting on the South Side.
As news spread of the deadly shooting, Terriana Smith’s mother noticed a familiar face and instantly called her brother, Charles McKenzie.
“She said, ‘that’s the officer who transported me and your niece to the hospital,’” McKenzie said.
WGN cameras caught French helping get Smith into the emergency room shortly after the shooting.
Memorial services for the fallen officer were held Wednesday on the city’s Southwest Side. A visitation took place at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel at 7740 South Western Avenue. Flags in Illinois are ordered to be flown at half-staff until Thursday evening to remember the life of the 29-year-old officer.