Chicago, IL – 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 slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French.
“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.”
Chicago Alderman Anthony Napolitano, a former Chicago police officer and firefighter, said there was no excuse for Superintendent Carter’s callous behavior.
“Give them just that respect at that time, which those officers needed because this is what creates that post-traumatic stress that they go through constantly in this war zone of a city that we have. To take that away from them in that moment was wrong,” Napolitano told the Chicago Sun-Times.
He said he hopes the directive “was just a miscalculation or something done in error.”
“But the way that was presented, the way that looks, that is just terrible,” the alderman said. “You don’t do that to your soldiers at all.”
Former CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the traditional bagpipe ceremony is a time-honored ritual for law enforcement line-of-duty deaths, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Superintendent Carter’s decision to ignore it was both “inexcusable” and sacrilege, McCarthy said.
“When Cliff Lewis got killed and his fiancée came to the hospital, I took her into another room and I sat her down and explained to her what had occurred,” McCarthy recounted to the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. “And she completely lost it. When I say lost it, she was basically rolling around on the floor.”
“You know what I did? I was on the ER floor of Christ Hospital rolling around with her trying to hold onto her and comfort her,” he said. “The sensitivity of an officer being killed. The handling of the family. The handling of the body. It’s kind of sacred.”
McCarthy said there was no reason for Superintendent Carter to ramrod the process along.
“There’s always enough time. Let’s put it that way,” he 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.
CPD spokesperson Don Terry refused to provide much in the way of feedback when asked if CPD Superintendent David Brown approves of how the first deputy superintendent handled the situation, according to the paper.
“No comment beyond reminding you of what an emotionally difficult and painful night that was — and continues to be — for everyone involved,” Terry responded.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office refused to comment.
When the mayor showed up at the hospital where Officer French and her 39-year-old wounded partner were taken after being shot by the convicted felon on Aug. 7, Chicago police turned their backs on her.
Officer French was a 29-year-old, three-year department veteran.
Her 39-year-old partner is fighting for his life at the University of Chicago Medical Center after being repeatedly shot in the head and shoulder during the attack.
One bullet lodged in the back of his head, a second exited his eye, and the third hit him in the shoulder, sources told WLS.
The six-year veteran of the department has a wife and a young son.
Witnesses said Lightfoot made her way to the hospital at about midnight and attempted to speak with the wounded male officer’s father, who is a retired Chicago police officer, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The retired officer unleashed on the mayor, accosting her for her perpetuating anti-police sentiments and blaming her for the attack on his son and Officer French, sources told the paper.
After listening to the wounded officer’s father, Lightfoot attempted to speak to about 30 Chicago police officers who were waiting nearby for an update on their comrade’s condition.
But as she approached, they walked away from her and lined up with their backs towards her, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
One witness described the move as “astounding,” according to the paper.
“They did the about-face,” the source said. “It looked like it had been choreographed.”
The gesture appeared to shake the mayor, who ended up heading outside to talk to reporters, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John Catanzara said the officers’ actions send a clear message regarding how hundreds of Chicago police officers feel about Lightfoot’s leadership.
“The police officers’ decision to turn their backs on the mayor while waiting with the family on the 7th floor was significant,” Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times. “They have had enough and are no longer going to remain silent.”
He said Lightfoot was warned that the wounded officer’s family did not want to speak with her on Saturday night, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“She was told, ‘Don’t come upstairs’ several times. I know that because I was downstairs in the E.R. when her people were told that the family did not want her upstairs. And she went up there anyway,” Catanzara said.
The union president said Lightfoot has been bashing Chicago police for years and tying their hands at every turn.
“From no vehicle chases at all under any circumstances pretty much to … 13 pages of a foot chase policy — that’s all on the mayor. It’s stupid. And she’s been vilifying the police for two-and-a-half years now,” Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Now, all of the sudden, she’s having a come-to-Jesus moment because she’s got John O’Malley as her deputy mayor? Nice enough dude, but enough is enough. Nobody’s buying it. She can say whatever the hell she wants and look like a hero. But she’s full of s—t,” he ranted.
Chicago Alderman Matt O’Shea said the Aug. 7 attack tipped the scales for many of the city’s officers.
“They’re at a breaking point,” O’Shea told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Clearly, our police officers have been under siege, under-appreciated and thrown under the bus for the last year and a half. They feel — and rightfully so — that leadership across this country, across this city do not have their back.”
“Anybody who was working Saturday night as those calls came over the radio and they learned of what had happened to their colleagues — that’s a tipping point,” he explained. “And it’s a tipping point that many of us have been waiting to happen as the unbelievable violence we see in communities all across this city, where criminals have absolutely no regard for human life, no fear of the consequences of their actions. To shoot at point-blank range two Chicago police officers. We are a city in crisis.”
O’Shea said the officers’ frustrations are not new.
“I would hope [Lightfoot] gets an understanding that police officers across this city feel that leadership does not have their back,” the alderman told the Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s what I’m hearing. That’s what I’ve been hearing for a long time.”
O’Shea noted that many residents living in the neighborhood where the attack occurred are supportive of law enforcement.
They even apprehended one of the fleeing suspects and held him down until police could arrive.
“The majority of people in this city support the police, want to see something done to send this pendulum back the other way,” O’Shea told the Chicago Sun-Times. “They’re sick and tired of the violence. Sick and tired of innocent children being murdered.”
Napolitano, who has butted heads with Lightfoot on numerous police-reform issues in the past, said the anti-police sentiment in Chicago is not solely the mayor’s fault.
“I never saw her as an anti-police advocate. But I will put this 550 percent on these socialists and these progressives in the City Council,” Napolitano told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This blood is on their hands, without a doubt.”
He said they are the same politicians who “created this whole anti-police movement” that has sparked “these brazen acts of violence against police officers.”
“This is created by them. This whole defund and disrespect movement that they have started,” Napolitano ranted. “These pieces of s–t are the ones that created this and talk anti-police. And they’re the ones begging for more police in their communities. They’re the biggest hypocrites. They disgust me.”
Chicago Alderman Nick Sposato argued that Lightfoot is “not anti-police,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“I know what she tells me. Sometimes, maybe, she doesn’t show it as well in public,” Sposato said. “People want to play the blame game. I don’t blame anybody for this. It’s the time and the culture.”
He said the officers’ show of disrespect towards the mayor on Saturday night was “disappointing” and unjustified, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Public Safety Committee Chairman Chris Taliaferro agreed with Sposato, calling the display “tragic,” “unfortunate,” and unwarranted.
Lightfoot’s office released a statement Monday calling for unity as opposed to “divisive and toxic rhetoric or reporting,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“The mayor was present at the emergency room to offer support and condolences to the families involved and the hundreds of line officers and exempts who were there, which she did,” the statement read. “In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and that is to be expected. The mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues.”
“This is a time for us to come together as a city. We have a common enemy and it is the conditions that breed the violence and the manifestations of violence, namely illegal guns, and gangs,” Lightfoot’s office said.
Convicted felon Emonte Morgan has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Officer French, as well as additional charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, according to the New York Post.
Emonte Morgan’s brother, fellow convicted felon Eric Morgan, has been charged with obstruction of justice and unlawful use of a weapon, the New York Post reported.
Both were on probation at the time of the attack.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago indicted Jamel Danzy on Monday for conspiring to straw purchase the gun used to attack the two officers during the traffic stop on Saturday night.
According to court documents, Danzy allegedly admitted that he purchased the firearm from a gun dealer in Hammond, Indiana, and gave it to a friend in Chicago who was prohibited from buying guns due to his criminal convictions, WFLD reported.