Chicago, IL – The Chicago Cubs told The Police Tribune that the fan who was escorted from Wrigley Field on Monday night had assaulted multiple employees and his ejection had nothing to do with the sign he was holding that honored murdered Chicago Police Officer Ella French.
The Chicago Police Department, however, said no such incident had been reported.
The fan’s eviction from the Cubs’ stadium did not go unnoticed on Aug. 9, and pictures went viral of the man holding the sign in memory of 29-year-old Officer French being escorted from the stands.
The next night, a fan with seats behind home base at Wrigley Field brought a sign to the game between the two hometown teams that said “RIP Officer Ella French.”
Officer French, who was gunned down during a traffic stop on Sunday night, was the first female Chicago police officer to be killed in the line of duty in 33 years.
Social media posts from the game showed that security removed the Cubs fan with the sign about Officer French from the stadium as the Chicago Cubs faced off with the Chicago White Sox less than 24 hours after the officer was murdered.
“So, someone holds up [a sign] in honor of a Chicago police officer shot and killed in the line of duty, and they’re escorted out of the stadium. But people can hold up signs, and players can wear shirts supporting #blacklivesmatter, and no one says a word,” former New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bernard Kerik tweeted.
So, someone holds up assign in honor of a Chicago police officer shot and killed in the line of duty, and they’re escorted out of the stadium. But people can hold up signs, and players can wear shirts supporting #blacklivesmatter, and no one says a word. pic.twitter.com/G72K5GgZTm
— Bernard B. Kerik (@BernardKerik) August 9, 2021
Locals pointed out the hypocrisy of the move, given that Chicago police officers are trusted to keep baseball players and their fans safe in the stadiums and suggested that instead of booting out someone carrying Officer French’s name on a sign, they should have formally honored her memory.
As it’s the #CrosstownClassic, it would have been a nice gesture by Chicago’s two teams to have a moment of silence for Officer Ella French before tonight’s @cubs vs. @whitesox game. Instead, no mention. How many CPD officers protect their fans every game?
— Dylan Gresik (@DylanGresik) August 9, 2021
On Thursday evening, the Chicago Cubs told The Police Tribune that the fan’s ejection from the stadium had nothing to do with the sign he was carrying.
“The fan in question, physically and verbally assaulted several staff members and a fan, using anti-LGBT slurs during the game which had nothing to do with the sign or the message,” Chicago Cubs Senior Vice President of Communications Julian Green wrote in an email.
“The sign on its face paying tribute to Officer French would present no problem at Wrigley Field,” Green wrote. “In fact, we lowered all flags in honor of Officer French prior first pitch Monday night and was one of the first organizations/facilities in the city to do so. We also paid tribute to the officer with a message on the Marquee at the main entrance. Typically, messages would be shown on the Marquee in rotation, but we decided to pause all messages and keep the tribute up during the entire game: END OF WATCH: Officer Ella French, August 7, 2021 #neverforget.”
“The fan’s behavior was at issue and we are planning to pursue criminal charges,” Green concluded.
But when The Police Tribune reached out to the Chicago police about their investigation into the alleged assaults, the police department said they had not been notified about the incident.
WTH. Disturbing that MLB would allow this gentleman to be escorted out pic.twitter.com/L9PMUlXQaW
— Dan Mack (@DanMack62) August 9, 2021
Kerik told The Police Tribune he didn’t find the Major League Baseball (MLB) team’s answer story believable or surprising.
“I think they should have stuck to their original story that the sign and the guy holding the sign were interfering with the pitcher,” the former New York City police commissioner said. “Okay, if that’s true, then you could have asked the guy to move or taken him out of the immediate area. I don’t believe that. I believe he was moved because of the sign.”
“What’s annoying to me is that they have Black Lives Matter signs hanging all over the stadium and players are wearing Black Lives Matter shirts, but a guy holding up a sign in honor of a cop killed in the line of duty is the problem,” he said. “I think this is typical of the anti-cop rhetoric that’s being promoted in the MLB, the NBA and the NFL – all of them.”
“This is something that’s been going on for the last two years. This isn’t the first one, this isn’t the first time. MLB, NBA and NFL have been supporting Black Lives Matter, which is a group calling for the murder of cops. They’re promoted their rhetoric and their signage. This is not new,” Kerik continued.
“Is it surprising?” Kerick asked. “No. Disappointing? Yes. But this is also why I believe their viewership is down substantially and it’s going to continue to go down. Because Americans are sick of it.”
Officer French was shot at about 9:10 p.m. on Aug. 8 in the 6300-block of South Bell Avenue, according to WLS.
Investigators said there were three occupants inside the suspect vehicle – a female and two males, according to WBBM.
One officer was standing near the passenger’s side door of the suspect vehicle and another was standing near the driver’s side door when a male in the back seat opened fire on them, sources told the news outlet.
“Officer down,” an officer radioed around 9:10 p.m., according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I got an officer down,” a police dispatcher alerted. “Six three and Bell, officer down, officer down, shot twice, shot at police, officer down.”
An officer yelled out just before the dispatcher issued another directive, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Give me two ambulances, two ambulances needed for two officers down, two officers down … Get those officers wrapped up going to six three and Bell. I want a perimeter set up three blocks, north south, east, west.”
Officer French was murdered in the attack, and her 39-year-old partner was rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition and remains hospitalized in the ICU, fighting for his life.
Sources told WLS he was shot three times.
One bullet lodged in the back of his head, a second exited his eye, and the third hit him in the shoulder, they said.
The six-year veteran of the department has a wife and a young son, WLS reported.
Officers returned fire, wounding the gunman, who was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in serious condition, WBBM reported.
The second male inside the suspect vehicle ran from the scene and scaled a fence at a nearby home, drawing the attention of area residents, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Three neighbors confronted the suspect near a backyard swing set.
The suspect allegedly hit one of the citizens during the encounter, at which point the civilian trio tackled him to the ground, the Chicago Tribune reported.
They held him down until police arrived moments later and took him into custody.