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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has claimed the officers who wanted to give fallen officer Ella French a bagpipe honor guard from the hospital to the morgue last week after she was gunned down were trying to ‘hijack’ the night she was killed.
French, 29, was killed in the line of duty while performing a traffic stop. Her partner, who has not been named, was wounded but survived. After she was pronounced dead at the hospital on Saturday night, French’s body was transported by ambulance to the medical examiner’s office.
Some of her colleagues wanted to line the route and give her a bagpipe procession but First Deputy Police Supt. Eric Carter banned it. He told the EMTs driving the ambulance to carry on straight to the medical examiner’s office for the autopsy to be carried out, saying: ‘We don’t have 20 minutes for this s**t.’
That same night, Lightfoot – who supported calls to defund the city’s police – showed up at the hospital to offer her support to the family of French’s wounded partner.
Cops who were still there turned their back on her when she arrived and there were reports that the mayor forced her way into the facility.
On Wednesday, Lightfoot held a press conference to deny that claim and to also accuse the cops who wanted to perform the honor guard of ‘hijacking’ the night and depriving French’s family of a crucial window of time to see her body before the autopsy was carried out.
She also railed against the journalists present, accusing them of asking her ‘offensive’ questions like did she force her way into the hospital and accusing them of ‘mining from the bottom of the chum barrel’ and producing ‘sickening’ reports that criticized her.
On Wednesday, Lightfoot held a press conference to deny that claim and to also accuse the cops who wanted to perform the honor guard of ‘hijacking’ the night
Chicago Police Officer Ella French, pictured, was shot dead on Saturday in the line of duty
Two hundred cops turned out to honor French at a prayer vigil on Tuesday after being ‘banned’ from holding the procession
‘There was no official honor guard that night.
‘There was — let me choose my words carefully — well-meaning but not well-organized group that wanted to hijack the procession, which would have meant that the family would have been delayed exponentially in getting to the morgue.
‘And again, given the new restrictions that the new coroner has put in place, that wouldn’t have been fair to them and they may have lost an important window of time
‘So the call was made, under those circumstances, to focus on the family.
‘Eric Carter made the right call. I support what he did and I’m horrified that in this moment people are trying to savage him for whatever agenda or purpose,’ Lightfoot said.
She then fumed at the media and told them they were using unreliable sources.
‘I would just caution you all. Be careful. Be careful. Check your sources. Make sure they’re accurate. Get the right context. Because I know firsthand, it’s really hard when the media becomes ferocious in propagating a story that’s just not true.’
Lightfoot then got angry when a journalist asked her if she’d forced her way into the hospital.
‘I don’t force my way anywhere. And that’s offensive, frankly, that you would ask me that question.
‘I just sat here and talked about the fact that we’ve got to be really careful and you have to be really careful in your reporting and be responsible. And you just keep lobbing this nonsense that’s offensive and insulting and really does a disservice to the moment that we’re in.’
She questioned why it’s acceptable ‘for people to engage in such nasty, vicious talk’ and then have it ‘repeated by media as if it is fact and true.’
‘People feel like it is their right to spew hatred at everyone that they don’t agree with or make fun and mock, usually anonymously and cowardly from social media.
‘I think our media plays a very important role in our democracy, but you lose me, you lose me when it’s a race to the bottom and it’s all about the fight and it’s all about the conflict.
‘I’ve got to tell you, some of the reporting I’ve seen this week is just sickening.
‘We all need to ask ourselves what we can do better to show our people everywhere that we have the capacity to be human beings again.’
‘Give me a break. What else are you going to mine from the bottom of the chum barrel? Come on. You’re better than that. You’re better than that. You’re better than that,’ she said.
Chicago police union boss John Catanzara told Fox News that Lightfoot had to shoulder some of the blame for French’s death.
Two brothers – Emonte Morgan, 21, and his brother Eric, 22, have been arrested and charged after French, 29, was shot dead and her partner was critically injured during a routine traffic stop on Saturday.
Lightfoot arrived at the University of Chicago Medical Center shortly after the shooting, where dozens of police officers turned their backs when she greeted them. French’s partner remains in critical condition at the hospital.
Eric Morgan is pictured during the traffic stop in the new body worn camera footage
The Morgan brothers were said to have been driving with expired license plates, prompting police to pull them over
The father of the injured officer, who has not been named, reportedly told Lightfoot when she went to the hospital that ‘there’s blood on her hands.’
A former top police official has slammed the Chicago Police Department after it was revealed that a ‘sacred’ ritual was skipped after the shooting death of Ella French over time concerns.
Garry McCarthy, the department’s former superintendent, told Fox News that officers ‘feel under attack by politicians’ after French’s body was taken directly to the medical examiner’s office for her autopsy without a guard of honor.
He claimed they avoided drawing their weapons to honor their fallen colleague – as is tradition – over fears they’d have to file a report for doing so, as part of new police reform laws.
Garry McCarthy, the department’s former superintendent, said Chicago cops ‘feel under attack’ from politicians like Lightfoot, who wanted to defund the police last summer despite soaring gun crime in the city
The Emerald Society, an Irish-American fraternal organization for members who most often come from law enforcement, had gathered outside the medical examiner’s office to play ceremonial bagpipes for her final send-off.
Chicago police and other officials worked swiftly to arrest three suspects after French’s death, though charges have not yet been filed.
French was the first Windy City officer to be fatally shot in the line of duty in almost two years, and the first female cop shot to death in the line of duty since 1988.
Still, McCarthy blasted the department for skipping the procession – which he called an ‘inexcusable’ affront to cops in the city, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
‘The officers here in CPD and probably across the country … feel under attack by politicians and the public. Most of them feel like they’re not being supported by their leadership,’ he said.
He added: ‘It’s so important, the sacred nature of rituals, certainly within policing.’
‘If there’s an excuse for what happened, then maybe, you know, Eric should talk about it publicly himself,’ he said.
McCarthy said that officers also did not draw their weapons, as traditionally practiced after the death of a colleague. He blamed the skipping of that tradition on possible police reform measures.
‘That’s probably the result of a policy that was put in place for every time you draw your weapon, you have to do a report about it. Policing is entirely under attack, and that’s why we have a 100% increase in the murder rate,’ McCarthy said.
‘There’s always enough time. Let’s put it that way. If we had to wait two or three days, I would have done it,’ he said.