Suspect in Killing of Chicago Police Officer Ella French Held Without Bail

The Chicago man who allegedly shot and killed Chicago police Officer Ella French was ordered held without bail during a court hearing Tuesday.

Emonte Morgan, 21, has been charged with several felonies including first-degree murder of a peace officer, two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after he allegedly killed French and shot a second officer in the face during a traffic stop in West Englewood on Saturday night

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Judge Arthur Willis on Tuesday denied bail for Morgan, who remains hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the chest.

“They didn’t have weapons drawn on him, they weren’t firing on him,” Willis said of the officers. “And (Morgan) callously, with disregard for human safety, shoots and kills one and the other is in critical condition.”

Morgan’s brother, 22-year-old Eric Morgan, is also charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and obstruction of justice. He too was held without bail during a separate hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy detailed the shooting during Emonte Morgan’s hearing Tuesday morning. According to Murphy, French, 29, was driving on patrol with two male officers, ages 30 and 39, when they pulled over an SUV with expired license plates driven by Eric Morgan near 63rd Street and South Bell Avenue.

French walked to the driver’s side of the vehicle and took the car keys from Eric Morgan, who admitted that he had marijuana on him, according to Murphy. He was ordered to get out of the car.

The other officers ordered Emonte Morgan to get out of the car, and he exited with an open drink and a cellphone in hand, according to Murphy. He refused to set those items down, and soon began struggling with the two male officers.

As this happened, Eric Morgan allegedly tried to run and was chased by one of the male officers. The other male officer continued struggling with Emonte Morgan at the back of the SUV, according to Murphy.

Those two moved toward the open front passenger door, with the officer yelling at Morgan to show his hands. As French came over to assist, Emonte Morgan allegedly fired multiple shots, striking both French and the male officer in the head.

The intersection of 63rd Street and South Bell Avenue in Chicago. (WTTW News)The intersection of 63rd Street and South Bell Avenue in Chicago. (WTTW News)

According to Murphy, the shooting was captured on the officers’ body cameras, which showed Emonte Morgan briefly leave the vehicle, then walk back and step over the wounded male officer.

The third officer who was chasing Eric Morgan heard the gunshots and ran back to the vehicle when he didn’t get a response from his two partners over their radio, Murphy said. When he got there, Emonte Morgan allegedly began firing at him from the rear of the SUV.

That officer initially fell to the ground, but then returned fire and struck Emonte Morgan, according to Murphy. He was taken into custody by other officers who had responded to the scene, while Eric Morgan was detained by a group of civilians until he too was taken into custody by police.

The officers were rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where French died. The wounded officer remains in critical condition with three gunshot wounds and a bullet lodged in his brain, Murphy said.

Murphy said Emonte Morgan gave a recorded statement to investigators in which he admitted to drinking and possessing a firearm, and said he “thought he might have shot” the two officers.

Another man, Jamel Danzy, was charged in federal court Monday with allegedly acting as a straw purchaser in Indiana to buy the firearm used in the shooting and provide it to Emonte Morgan, who could not buy a gun himself because he’s a convicted felon. 

French is the first Chicago police officer to be fatally shot in the line of duty since 2018, when Samuel Jimenez was killed in a shooting at Mercy Hospital. She is the first female Chicago police officer to be killed since Irma Ruiz in 1988.

"On August 7, 2021, the City of Chicago suffered a tremendous loss when Officer Ella French was tragically killed in the line of duty during an incident that also left another officer critically injured,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement Tuesday, adding that her office “will prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law."

At an unrelated press conference Tuesday morning, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said French’s family “deserved to have the entire state grieve for their daughter.”

The governor called the shooting of French and her partner horrendous.

“It is outrageous that police are being shot at. It is outrageous that we have violence that is boiling over — and it’s not just in Chicago,” he said. “It’s in other parts of the state and it’s all across the nation.”

The governor said COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout has led to an increase in not just violence but crime broadly, which creates “an extraordinarily challenging situation for every city.”

“But we must do everything in our power,” to stop it, he said, adding the state has offered and provided state police assistance and doubled the amount of funding for violence interruption and violence prevention programs. “We’ve got to do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. … We’ve got to do more to reduce the number of guns on the streets in addition to supporting the work of those violence interrupters.”

Kristen Thometz contributed to this report.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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