CHICAGO — A newly released police watchdog report praises Ella French, a Chicago police officer who was shot dead in August, for being among the few officers who tried to help Anjanette Young “protect [her] dignity” during a wrongful raid on her home.
Young, who is suing the city over the wrongful raid, has said French was the only officer who treated her with “any dignity or respect” that night in 2019. French, 29, was shot dead during a traffic stop this August, while the investigation into the raid was ongoing.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability included French, were she alive, among the officers it’d recommend face discipline for their role in the raid — but for reasons not related to how Young was treated. The agency’s final report on the raid was publicly released this week.
The report details the night officers raided Young’s home, handcuffing her while she was undressed and detaining her even as she told them they had the wrong home.
French was not one of the officers who was part of the raid. Instead, she and a few other officers arrived afterward to provide security, according to the report. She and others officers stopped and searched a man who had been parked behind Young’s home, then went inside when they learned he was not involved in the investigation.
French offered to take Young — who had been handcuffed naked for about 10 minutes — to a discreet area so she could get dressed, which a sergeant approved. French took Young to a bedroom and took off her handcuffs, allowing Young to put on clothes, according to the report.
French handcuffed Young again and brought her back to the other officers.
French told investigators re-handcuffing Young after she dressed was “justified because she perceived Ms. Young to be in a highly volatile emotional state and believed that, as an assisting officer whose role in the incident was limited, she was not in a position to alter the conditions of Ms. Young’s detention,” according to the report.
But as the raid continued, French and another officer asked if they could remove Young’s handcuffs. It wasn’t until 20 minutes after the raid had started that a sergeant allowed that.
French was the only woman officer present, was a probationary officer and had the least experience of any officer on the search warrant team, according to the report.
Yet French and two other officers were the only ones present who “took affirmative steps to protect Ms. Young’s dignity,” the agency found.
The report said French had made errors, though: She did not active her body-worn camera in a timely manner, and she did not properly submit an investigatory stop report after she and others officers stopped the man outside Young’s home.
For that, the watchdog recommended French be given a three-day suspension. The suggestion is now moot since French was slain in the line of duty this August.
French and other officers had pulled over a driver when one of the people in the car got into a struggled with officers and fired shots.
French was hit in the back of her head and died from the wound. Another officer was shot in his brain and right eye. He is still recovering.
Afterward, Young publicly praised French’s actions during the raid on her home.
“Officer French assisted Ms. Young and allowed her to get dressed, in the privacy of her bedroom,” a spokesperson for Young said in a statement. “Officer French was the only officer who showed Ms. Young any dignity or respect on the night of the raid. Ms. Young is praying for Officer French’s family and offers her sincerest condolences to them and all of Officer French’s friends and colleagues.”
French also was credited for saving the life of a newborn baby wounded during a July mass shooting in Englewood, WGN TV reported.
Thousands attended French’s funeral to say goodbye to the officer.
“The city of Chicago mourns the loss of one of our finest,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement at the time. “My heart hurts for the family, friends and colleagues of officer Ella French, as we lay her to rest today. May the memories of how she lived carry her loved ones during this difficult time.”
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