A number of Chicago police officers who showed up at the University of Chicago Medical Center in support of their colleagues who were shot late Saturday night turned away from Mayor Lori Lightfoot when she visited the hospital, according to multiple sources and social media posts.
Officer Ella French, 29 years old, was fatally shot during a traffic stop in the city's West Englewood neighborhood Saturday night, while her partner was hospitalized and said to be "fighting for his life." Three people were arrested in connection with the incident.
Ald. Ray Lopez, who represents the 15th Ward, which borders the community where French was shot and killed, posted a photo to Facebook showing several officers at the hospital, with their backs facing the camera.
"They turned their back to the mayor just as she has turned her back on the rank and file time and time again," he wrote.
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In an interview on Fox News Monday morning, John Catanzara, Chicago's FOP president, said in the hours following the shooting, Lightfoot was told not visit the hospital's seventh floor, where the critically injured officer and his family were.
But according to Catanzara, the mayor "still thought she knew best and went up there against the advice of family," and at some point, the officers turned their backs on the mayor.
The union chief also said the injured officer's father, a recently retired Chicago police officer, gave the mayor a "piece of his mind." When asked what the father told the mayor, Catanzara said, "paraphrasing, there's blood on her hands."
The police union president and mayor have often found themselves at odds on a number of issues including strategies to reduce violence citywide, police contract negotiations and logistical changes within the department.
During Monday morning's interview, Catanzara said Chicago's officers "have no respect for the mayor."
Rank-and-file officers issued a no-confidence vote against Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown in May, citing reasons including exhaustion and the department's decision to cancel days off on multiple occasions, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"And now because the political climate says the defund policy and the police maybe aren't the enemy, now she has to pivot, and now she has to be our best friend, it's too damn late," Catanzara stated.
In a statement, Lightfoot's office said she visited the hospital following Saturday's shooting to offer support and condolences to the families involved and the hundreds of officers present.
"In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and that is to be expected," the statement added, in part. "The Mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues...The Mayor is focused on healing the wounds and will reject any and all that try to use this moment to drive further divisions in our city."
NBC 5 reached out to the Chicago Police Department for comment, but hadn't received a response as of Monday afternoon.
The full statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office is below:
“This is an extremely difficult and heartbreaking time for the Chicago Police Department, and for our entire city. The Mayor was present at the emergency room to offer support and condolences to the families involved and the hundreds of line officers and exempts who were there, which she did. In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and that is to be expected.
The Mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues. As the Mayor stated yesterday, now is not the time for divisive and toxic rhetoric or reporting.
This is a time for us to come together as a city. We have a common enemy and it is the conditions that breed the violence and the manifestations of violence, namely illegal guns, and gangs. The Mayor is focused on healing the wounds and will reject any and all that try to use this moment to drive further divisions in our city.
The Mayor remains committed to continuing supports for our dedicated and heroic police officers who risk their lives every day to keep all our neighborhoods safe from senseless violence. As the Mayor stated yesterday morning, we must come together as a city and wrap our arms around all those who knew and loved Officer French and pray for the health and recovery of her partner who continues to fight for his life today.”