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Man Charged With Killing Police Officer Ella French Opened Fire During Traffic Stop Struggle, Prosecutors Say

A judge said the shooting came after officers stopped a driver because his license plate was expired.

Officer Ella French, 29, was shot and killed Aug. 7 during a traffic stop.
Chicago Police
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CHICAGO — The man charged in the killing of Chicago police officer Ella French was denied bail at a hearing Tuesday.

The Saturday shooting left French dead and another officer wounded. That officer — who was shot in his right eye and brain — remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Emonte Morgan, 21, has been charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer, attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

Emonte Morgan was denied bail at a hearing Tuesday. He was shot during the gunfight with police and is hospitalized.

Emonte’s brother — Eric Morgan, 19 — has also been charged in connection to the shooting. He faces charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and obstruction of justice.

The shooting happened about 9 p.m. Saturday in the 6300 block of South Bell Street.

The officers, including French, were in uniforms and in a marked squad car when they pulled over a driver for having expired plates, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said at the hearing.

Eric Morgan was driving the car, while a woman was in the passenger seat and Emonte Morgan was in the back, Murphy said. There was open alcohol in the car and the woman wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, the prosecutor said.

French had Eric Morgan give her his car keys; he told her he had cannabis, and French told him to get out of the car, Murphy said. He said Eric Morgan was “initially cooperative.”

Another of the two officers asked the woman to get out of the car; she did so, and then stood behind the SUV, Murphy said.

The third officer asked Emonte Morgan to step out. He came out with a drink in one hand and his cellphone in another, and he refused to put them down and “jerked” his arms away from the officer, Murphy said.

Eric Morgan ran off; he’d later tell investigators he knew Emonte Morgan had a gun and he was nervous, Murphy said. One of the officers chased him.

The other two officers, one of whom was French, got into a struggle with Emonte Morgan. Police body-camera video shows the officers struggling with Emonte Morgan, and a gun in his waistband can be seen at one point, Murphy said.

The struggle moved to the open, front passenger door, where Emonte Morgan was partially inside the car with an officer over him, Murphy said. The officer yelled at Morgan to show him his hand, the prosecutor said. French went to the front passenger side to assist.

The two officers’ guns were holstered, which can be seen in the video, Murphy said.

Emonte Morgan then fired multiple shots, hitting French and the second officer, Murphy said.

The two officers fell to the ground between the car and the curb. Their body cameras continued to record.

In the videos, Emonte Morgan can be seen emerging from the car and holding a gun in his left hand, Murphy said. He looks around while standing over the officers and, at one point, steps over one of them. He then opens a back door of the car and disappears from view, Murphy said.

The third officer, who had chased after Eric Morgan, heard the shots. He didn’t hear his partners over the radio, so he stopped trying to handcuff Eric Morgan and ran back to the cars, Murphy said.

That officer saw Emonte Morgan, who shot at him from the back of the car, Murphy said. The officer shot back and fell to the ground.

As the officer stood back up, he saw Emonte and Eric Morgan meet up across the street and begin to run away, Murphy said.

The officer shot at Emonte Morgan, hitting him. Emonte Morgan gave a gun to his brother and Eric Morgan ran off, Murphy said.

The officer went back to his partners and saw they were wounded. There were “numerous” officers who responded to the shooting, Murphy said. They loaded French and the other officer into a squad car and rushed them to the hospital.

Other officers searched the area and found Emonte Morgan. He’d been shot in his abdomen and left bicep and was hospitalized, Murphy said.

Eric Morgan was tackled by two people as he tried to cut through a yard, Murphy said. They held him down until police found them and took Eric Morgan into custody. One of the witnesses said Eric Morgan had hit his arm with what he thought to be a gun, and a .22-caliber gun was found in the backyard near where Eric Morgan was detained, Murphy said.

French was shot in the back of her head and died from the wound.

The second officer was hit in his right eye, brain and right shoulder, Murphy said. He remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Emonte and Eric Morgan spoke to investigators, with Emonte Morgan saying he thought he’d shot two officers, had been drinking and had a gun in his waistband when pulled over, Murphy said.

Eric Morgan said he was nervous when pulled over because he knew Emonte Morgan had a gun with him, Murphy said. He said he ran away, was chased by an officer and heard shots, Murphy said.

When the officer ran back to the cars, Eric Morgan said his brother ran to him and gave him a gun, Murphy said. Eric Morgan tried to get rid of a gun, jumping a gate into a backyard as he ran off, but several men stopped him, Murphy said.

A third man — Jamel Danzy, 29, of Indiana — has been charged with conspiracy to violate federal weapons laws in connection with the shooting.

Murphy said the car being driven by the Morgans and the gun used in the shooting were owned by Danzy.

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