At the funeral of fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French, her partner's father shared an emotional speech on behalf of his son, who is continuing to recover in the hospital.
"We tried to hold it back from him -- the information -- as long as possible because his doctors did not feel his brain could withstand the stress and the pain. When he found out, a couple days ago, I never saw so much sorrow and pain," said retired Chicago Police Officer Carlos Yanez Sr. of his son hearing the news of French's death.
Officer Ella French was shot and killed and her partner, Officer Carlos Yanez, critically wounded earlier this month when a traffic stop turned violent. Her funeral was held Friday as hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the 29-year-old killed in the line of duty.
Yanez Sr. said he said he "had never seen (his son) so sad" than when he found out his partner had died in the traffic stop shooting.
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"He said 'Dad, please tell them how sorry he feels' and the pain for the family and he wishes he could be here," Yanez said. "He made sure I was here for him. I speak for him."
Officer Carols Yanez Jr. told his father to bring with him a T-shirt for French because he wanted “a little bit of me to be with her," Yanez Sr. said.
"My heart is broken too," Yanez Sr. said. "One side is so sad and broken because I feel Ella's mom's pain as a parent. And the other part of my heart says 'thank God my son is still alive.'"
At her daughter's funeral, French's mother stood before the packed church filled with police, first responders and city officials with what she said was only half her heart.
"I have two children, Ella and Andrew, they are my heart," Elizabeth French said. "Today I am here with half my heart."
Escorted to the podium by Yanez Sr. and Officer Josh Blas, who was also at the scene that night, Elizabeth French read a letter she wrote to her daughter years earlier about the day the pair met for her adoption.
"This letter to Ella is dated May 2002," she began. "Dear Ella, let me tell you a story about the day you were born to me. Catholic Charities first brought you into my home when you were 8 months old. Your baby face as you entered my home was so solemn and serious. We sat and played and talked, at least I did a while we got to know each other. Then you smiled. It was a smile that lit up your face, my home and captured my heart. I knew then that God willing, you would be my daughter forever."
French, a young officer who made a big impact during her short time on the force, was remembered during the service for her empathy, compassion and determination.
"She was loud, fun and outgoing," Blas said. "She always loved getting to know people and talking to them. She was bubbly and always smiling. She genuinely loved people."
Once a foster child who was adopted into her family, French dedicated her spare time to fostering dogs and helping animals, giving back in a way that mirrored her own journey.
Speaking directly to her mother during his homily, Cardinal Blase Cupich recalled a conversation in which Elizabeth French described the empathy her daughter exuded not just in her work, but also in her life.
"Elizabeth, you told me when we met that Ella always understood herself as a work in progress, how her experience especially as a corrections officer with Cook County, made her a better human being because it helped her develop an empathy for others," he said. "It was her empathy that prompted her to rush a 1-year-old baby and her mother on her own to a hospital, something she no doubt was encouraged to do as she witnessed the example of her fellow officers. It was her ability to connect with others that taught her compassion, empathy and responsibility for others."
The private service at the St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, drew attendance from hundreds of officers and public officials, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CPD Supt. David Brown, former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, former police Supt. Garry McCarthy and many others.
The front lawn outside the church was covered with men and women in uniform from departments across the Chicago area, many waiting outside for hours on a hot August day to pay their respects.
Elizabeth French thanked the many officers in attendance for their support and their sacrifice.
"I want to thank each and every one of you for your presence here today," she said. "Ella would be honored. I especially want to thank all the members of law enforcement present. Ella was so proud to be a member of your family. Every day you leave home to serve and protect family, friends and people you will never meet in your communities, towns and cities. Ella and I thank you for your service. God bless you all."
She ended her eulogy by sharing with the officers present a message she would often say to her daughter as she left for work.
"Be careful and be safe," Elizabeth French said, as the crowd stood to their feet and applauded the grieving mother for her strength and her words.