Chicago Officer Critically Wounded Alongside Ella French Recounts Shooting Aftermath, Recovery

A memorial is on display at the funeral of Chicago police Officer Ella French on Aug. 19, 2021. (WTTW News)A memorial is on display at the funeral of Chicago police Officer Ella French on Aug. 19, 2021. (WTTW News)

Former Chicago police Officer Carlos Yanez Jr., who was critically wounded in the August 2021 shooting that left his partner Ella French dead, said he has no recollection of the altercation itself after he was shot multiple times in the head.

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The former officer, who lost an eye and was severely injured in the shooting, testified Wednesday during the trial of Emonte Morgan, who is charged with wounding Yanez and killing French.

Yanez, 42, wiped away tears in court while testifying Wednesday as he watched body worn camera video showing his partner, Officer Joshua Blas, discovering that Yanez and French had been shot. He shook his head and looked away from the screen while reviewing French’s and his own body camera footage, where he could be heard struggling to breathe after being wounded.

French was driving on patrol just after 9 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2021, with Yanez and Blas when they pulled over an SUV with expired license plates allegedly driven by Emonte Morgan’s brother Eric near 63rd Street and Bell Avenue. Emonte Morgan was sitting in the backseat.

After a brief interaction with police, Eric Morgan took off running while Emonte Morgan struggled with Blas and Yanez after refusing to set down his phone and a drink. Blas chased after Eric Morgan as Yanez and Emonte Morgan fell into the front passenger seat of the SUV. As French came around the back of the vehicle to help Yanez, Emonte Morgan allegedly opened fire, striking both officers and killing French.

Yanez said he was shot five times, including in the top and back of his head, his right eye and right cheek.

He testified that he has no memory of the shooting itself or anything immediately after the traffic stop began, telling jurors the next thing he knew he was on the ground, covered in blood and unable to move.

“As I was trying to fight to breathe, I heard gunfire right above me,” he said, “then I heard Josh screaming ‘Yanez, Yanez, French.’ Then another officer asked me where I was shot. I believe I said in the face.”

Yanez said he was completely paralyzed at this point and was loaded into a police vehicle and rushed to the hospital where he underwent surgery to remove his right eye and reconstruct parts of his skull.

“I remember being on a gurney and being transferred and all I could see was a big bright light above me,” Yanez said.

He told jurors he remained hospitalized for two weeks and went through months of extensive rehab. Yanez testified he cannot feel anything below his left knee and was temporarily unable to walk, but he has recovered enough to be able to walk into court unaided Wednesday.

Chicago police Officer Ella French (@TomAhernCPD / Twitter)Chicago police Officer Ella French (@TomAhernCPD / Twitter)

Yanez also showed jurors reminders left from his various injuries: a dimple on the top of his head from where a bullet entered, scars along his right eyebrow and along the right side of his head, and bullet fragments that remain lodged in his shoulder and neck.

Due to the extent of his injuries, Yanez is no longer able to work as an officer and currently holds a board seat with the city’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7.

Jurors on Tuesday viewed the graphic body camera footage from the three officers on scene showing the traffic stop, shooting and its immediate aftermath. Several observers, including members of French’s family, wept in court as videos showed the officer’s final moments.

Morgan’s defense team implied in its opening statements that Blas was the only person to fire a gun throughout the incident, but Blas testified that Morgan fired at him after Blas ran to aid his fellow officers.

On cross examination, Yanez said he could not remember whether or not he pulled a weapon before being shot and could not say how many total shots were fired.

Emonte Morgan was struck by Blas’ gunfire, and both brothers were subsequently apprehended.

The body camera video also shows both Yanez and French being shot while Blas was off chasing Morgan’s brother, Eric. When Blas returned, a second volley of gunfire could be heard.

Jurors on Wednesday were also shown a series of screenshots taken from Yanez’s body cam after he’d been shot that show Morgan holding what appears to be a firearm in his hand while standing and stepping over the officer’s body.

Amanda Kirksy, a woman who was riding in the vehicle with the Morgan brothers the night of the shooting, testified Tuesday that French and Yanez never pulled their weapons or hit Morgan prior to the shooting.

Eric Morgan was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty last fall to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated battery and obstruction of justice charges. Jamel Danzy, who pleaded guilty in federal court to straw purchasing the firearm allegedly used to kill French, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Emonte Morgan’s trial is expected to continue into next week.

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

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