CHICAGO (CBS) — At the funeral for fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French on Thursday, we got a much closer look at the who the officer was from the people who loved her the most.
As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, there were heartbreaking tributes from French’s mother, her former partner on the job, her godfather, and even the father of her partner on the job who was also shot in the same incident and is still fighting to recover in the hospital – Officer Carlos Yanez Jr.READ MORE: 'When I Finally Got To Be Elvira, That's When My Life Calmed Down': Mistress Of The Dark Peels Back The Curtain
At the service at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, 7740 S. Western Ave., Officer French’s mother – Elizabeth French – stood poised in a white blouse before hundreds of mourners – while saying was appearing before them with only half her heart.
“I have two children – Ella and Andrew,” Ms. French said. “They are my heart. Today I am here with half my heart.”
Elizabeth French displayed incredible strength as she spoke in front of a sea of law enforcement – painting a beautiful, intimate portrait of her relationship with her 29-year-old daughter whom she adopted when Ella French was just 8 months old.
She addressed the law enforcement members – watching from the pews and standing at attention outside — directly.
“Ella and I thank you for your service. God, bless you all,” Elizabeth French said. “I close with words I always told Ella as she headed into work – be careful and be safe.”
Elizabeth French also read a letter she wrote to Ella in 2002 about her adoption.
“Please know that adopting you was one of the best things I ever did in my life,” Ms. French read. “I love you with all my heart. Mom.”
Catholic Charities brought Ella to the French family home when she was 8 months old.
“It was a smile that lit up your face, my home, and captured my heart,” Ms. French said. “I knew then that God willing, you would be my daughter forever.:
Officer French’s family talked about how passionately she wanted to make a difference in the world — which is why she became a police officer.
Officer French’s godfather, David Tinberg, also shared stories of the impact she made on others’ lives in her short life.READ MORE: Teen Stabbed With Scissors After Argument On CTA Red Line Platform At Jackson Station
“Ella Grace, you are remembered. Ella Grace, you are loved. Ella Grace, you made a difference,” Timberg said.
Familiar faces from across the city — old and new — filled into the chapel to pay their respects. Among them were Mayor Lori Lightfoot and former Mayor Richard M. Daley, current police Supt. David Brown and former police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
In his homily, Blase Cardinal Cupich, Chicago’s archbishop, described Officer French’s “connectedness” – both to the community that she served and the people with whom she worked.
Her former partner, Officer Josh Blas, vouched for that.
“Spending nine hours a day with somebody in car – and put into some of the situations that partners are put into – you really learn a lot about a person,” Blas said. “She genuinely loved people, and always asked if you needed anything – just to try and be helpful, and brighten somebody’s day,” Blas said. “Ella, you’re a good police officer, friend, and partner. Thank you for all the great memories. I miss you.”
And leave it to the father of Officer Yanez Jr. to bring tears to any remaining dry eyes inside and outside the chapel.
Yanez was French’s partner who was critically wounded that night she was killed.
His father said he’d never seen his son filled with so much sorrow and pain as when they broke the news to him that Ella did not survive.
“My heart is broken too. One side is so sad and broken – because I feel Ella’s mom pain as a parent, and the part of my heart is thankful to God that my son is still alive,” said retired Chicago Police Officer Carlos Yanez Sr. “As we spoke, we are family now.”
It was raining heavily for a good portion of the mass, but it did not diminish the massive group of law enforcement officers standing outside to pay their respects.
It was clear from their unwavering support that Officer French was truly loved and respected.
French, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop in West Englewood, had been on the job since 2018.
Officer French, 29, was assigned to the Community Safety Team and conducted the traffic stop around 9 p.m. Saturday near 63rd Street and Bell Avenue in West Englewood. She was shot dead and Yanez was shot and critically wounded.MORE NEWS: Record 53,000 Rat Complaints Help Chicago Retain Crown As Rattiest City In America For 7th Year In A Row
Two brothers, Eric and Emonte Morgan, have been charged in the shooting.