Chicago, IL – The civilian review panel that publicly recommended a posthumous suspension for a Chicago police hero who was murdered in August defended its decision to name Chicago Police Officer Ella French in its report despite widespread criticism.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticized the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s (COPA) decision to include the fallen officer’s name in the report and disciplinary recommendations that were publicly released three months after Officer French was fatally shot by a convicted felon during a traffic stop, WTTW reported.
“I am disappointed. As we all know, painfully, Ella French gave her life in service to the city,” Lightfoot said at a press conference on Friday. “It is disappointing to me, in light of her passing, that COPA still felt the need to include her name in their recommendation for discipline of a deceased individual.”
“That, to me, seems the height of tone-deafness,” the mayor continued. “They could have taken different action – particularly in light of the fact that Ms. Young herself said that Officer French showed her respect and treated her with dignity. It just doesn’t make sense that COPA made this decision.”
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown called the 29-year-old murdered officer “a hero,” WLS reported.
Superintendent Brown said COPA’s decision not to redact her name from the report was “unnecessarily insensitive.”
“Officer Ella French is a hero. Her name and bravery should not be diminished in any way,” Chicago’s top cop said. “Failing to acknowledge her death in the line of duty and redact her name from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s report is unnecessarily insensitive.
“We will remember Officer French by her kindness and dedication to the people of Chicago. We will forever remember and honor the legacy of service and courage she left behind,” the police superintendent added.
COPA released the summary report of an investigation into an incident that took place in February of 2019 on Nov. 10, three months after Officer French was killed in the line of duty.
The report detailed a drug raid that was conducted at the wrong address and resulted in a naked social worker being handcuffed in her own home.
Superintendent Brown has recommended the termination of the sergeant who led the raid and COPA recommended that half of the officers involved in the incident be disciplined, WGN reported.
COPA’s report listed the recently-murdered Officer French as one of the officers who deserved to be disciplined for her actions.
“Officer French – COPA has considered Officer French’s complimentary history, her lack of prior disciplinary history, and her over 3 years of service to the Department, and her status as PPO at the time of the incident in mitigation,” the COPA report read.
“Officer French failed to timely activate her body-worn camera and failed to document the detention and search of the male and his vehicle in an Investigatory Stop Report. Accordingly, COPA recommends a 3-day SUSPENSION,” the report concluded.
The report failed to acknowledge that the young officer had lost her life in the line of duty prior to receiving the discipline recommendation, WGN reported.
It also failed to acknowledge that the woman’s who filed the COPA complaint after her home was wrongly raided – Anjanette Young – had praised Officer French for the way she treated her the night of the incident, CBS News reported.
WBBM reported that Young said Officer French was the only member of the Chicago police force who showed her “any dignity or respect on the night of the raid.”
A spokeswoman for Young said that as soon as Officer French arrived, she walked the naked social worker into the bedroom so she could put on some clothes.
“Officer French assisted Ms. Young and allowed her to get dressed, in the privacy of her bedroom,” Young’s spokeswoman told WBBM. “Officer French was the only officer who showed Ms. Young any dignity or respect on the night of the raid.”
“Ms. Young is praying for Officer French’s family and offers her sincerest condolences to them and all of Officer French’s friends and colleagues,” she added.
The mayor said COPA should have taken the feedback from Young into consideration before deciding not to redact her name when the report was published, CBS News reported.
COPA Spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said that the report was actually completed in late April, four months before Officer French was killed.
Eaddy claimed there was a city ordinance that prevented the civilian review panel from redacting the murdered hero’s name from the report, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
“Following the review and concurrence by the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, as well as serving of administrative charges, we carefully considered the release of the report and its impact on Ms. Anjanette Young and Ella French’s family,” Eaddy said in an email. “We honor the service Officer French gave to our city and mourn her death and also hope the release of the report brings further closure to Ms. Anjanette Young.”