By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Chicago, IL – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot added insult to injury on Wednesday when she claimed fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French’s bagpipe tribute had been skipped because of the medical examiner’s pandemic protocols.
Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers are furious with their agency’s second-in-command after he ignored a sacred ritual on Saturday night and refused to wait for the Emerald Society to play the bagpipes as a final send-off for the slain hero.
“We don’t have 20 minutes for this s—t!” CPD First Deputy Police Superintendent Eric Carter declared as the murdered officer’s body lay in a nearby ambulance, awaiting transport to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Superintendent Carter demanded the Chicago Fire Department take Officer French’s body into the medical examiner’s office without stopping for the Emerald Society’s traditional bagpipe ceremony, according to the paper.
The directive was captured on a recording, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“We’re not waiting on the bagpipes. Go ahead and get the vehicle inside,” he ordered. “Take it all the way inside. Do not stop.”
The rank-and-file of the Chicago Police Department, along with multiple former high-ranking officials, condemned the superintendent for having disrespected the fallen hero and her fellow officers by skipping the bagpipe ritual.
Superintendent Carter’s decision received nationwide backlash on social media.
And just when it seemed things couldn’t get worse, the mayor of Chicago stood up for him.
“Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the decision not to allow the honor guard/bagpipes at the morgue after the shooting death of Officer Ella French was due to COVID-19 protocols set by the medical examiner, and it was not a decision made by First Deputy Eric Carter,” WTTW reported.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the decision not to allow the honor guard/bagpipes at the morgue after the shooting death of Officer Ella French was due to COVID-19 protocols set by the medical examiner, and it was not a decision made by First Deputy Eric Carter.
— Heather Cherone (@HeatherCherone) August 11, 2021
The claim came two weeks after Lightfoot permitted the massive four-day Lollapalooza music festival to go forward in Chicago.
The coroner’s office wasted no time in pushing back to correct the record.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office contradicted Lightfoot’s assertion that the bagpipes were skipped because of its rules, WGN reported.
“Protocols for processions at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office have not changed since the pandemic began,” the medical examiner’s office said in a statement. “First responders have always gathered in the office parking lot and dock to pay respects to fallen police officers and firefighters.”
“Early Sunday morning, police officers gathered in the parking and dock area as usual and bagpipers accompanied the body of Officer Ella French through the parking lot to the dock,” the office told WGN. “At no time did personnel from the Medical Examiner’s Office try to impede officers or bagpipers.”
Early Sunday morning, police officers gathered in the parking and dock area as usual and bagpipers accompanied the body of Officer Ella French through the parking lot to the dock. At no time did personnel from the Medical Examiner’s Office try to impede officers or bagpipers."
— Tahman Bradley (@tahmanbradley) August 11, 2021
Former CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy told the Chicago Sun-Times that the traditional bagpipe ceremony is a time-honored ritual for law enforcement line-of-duty deaths.
Superintendent Carter’s decision to ignore it was both “inexcusable” and sacrilege, McCarthy said.
He said there was no reason for Superintendent Carter to ramrod the process along.
“There’s always enough time. Let’s put it that way,” McCarthy said. “If we had to wait two or three days, I would have done it.”
McCarthy said he believes the move will likely have a lasting negative impact on the amount of respect the department’s rank-and-file officers have for Superintendent Carter.
“It would be a stretch to think that they would want to get behind a leader who doesn’t respect something that sacred,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
There have been numerous calls for the superintendent’s resignation on social media.