Home / News / Trial in murder of CPD Officer Ella French continues as jury examines photos

Trial in murder of CPD Officer Ella French continues as jury examines photos


Officer Nicolas Morales heard a frantic call over the radio, rushed to the scene and saw Ella French lying on the ground.

He told the jury he thought he had just fainted but quickly realized he was unresponsive. Then he heard the soft moans of his partner, Carlos Yanez Jr., who was lying on the ground and muttering, “I’ve been shot.”

“I didn’t want to leave Ella,” Morales said, his voice breaking, “but she needed help, so I went to her.”

Morales and other officers testified that when they arrived at 63rd Street and Bell Boulevard on Thursday, they saw French fatally wounded and Yanez clinging to life. As the trial of a man accused of shooting moved into its fourth day, police officers told the jury about their frantic trips to the University of Chicago Medical Center to get help for French and Yanez.

French, 29, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Aug. 7, 2021, shocking the city and its police department. Prosecutors said Yanez was seriously wounded and a third partner, Joshua Blas, was also shot and returned fire, firing at the suspect, Emonte Morgan.

Emonte Morgan, 23, is charged with murder and other felonies in connection with the shooting. His brother, Eric Morgan, was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the October shooting.

Morgan’s defense attorneys argued that the body camera video did not clearly depict the attack.

On Thursday, first responders described on the stand how they worked together to move French and Yanez to separate squad cars to take them to the hospital.

“Time was a very important factor,” Morales said.

Jurors watched body camera footage of the drive to the hospital; Morales testified that he and the other officer with him tried to calm Yanez down and get him to talk. Antonio Rodriguez, one of the officers who transported French, told the jury he performed mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions to try to resuscitate French as he took him to the hospital.

Jurors also viewed photos of the crime scene, which expanded from the vicinity of 63rd Street and Bell Boulevard where the attack occurred to the nearby residential area where police arrested Morgan and his brother.

Jennifer Jacobucci, a CPD evidence technician, was called to the scene the night of the shooting and had to compose herself at times as she looked at photos of the scene: a pool of blood in the street, a bulletproof vest with French’s name on it on the grass. Close-up of the gun in the grass out front.

Jacobucci testified that he toured the scene with the lead detective and marked several bullet casings with evidence markers.

According to prosecutors, French, Yanez and Blas pulled over the SUV driven by Emonte Morgan, his brother Eric and a woman for expired license plates. Prosecutors said Eric Morgan handed over the keys when asked, but Emonte Morgan refused to give up the drink and cellphone in his hand, leading to a fight.

Eric Morgan began running, state witnesses testified, and was chased by Blas, who returned to the scene when he heard the gunshots.

Body camera footage shown to the jury showed chaotic, close-up movements before Yanez and French were shot. French was on the other side of the vehicle and ran to help his partner.

Body camera footage shows Blas returning to the scene and screaming in pain.

The trial began with jury selection on Monday, and prosecutors began presenting witnesses on Tuesday.

The courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building was filled with family members and police officers for mostly emotional testimony.

Ella’s mother, Elizabeth French, told the jury Tuesday about her last phone call to her daughter, who called her on her way to work that night.

“He liked to call me on his way to work,” she told the jury.

Yanez, who survived the shooting but remains disabled, told the jury Wednesday about his devastating gunshot wounds. He testified that he remembered the beginning of the traffic stop, then did not remember anything until shortly after the shooting.

“I heard gunshots right above me and then I heard Josh yelling Yanez! Yanez! French!,” Yanez testified Wednesday, referring to Detective Joshua Blas.


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