More than a month and a half after he was critically wounded in a shooting, Chicago Police Officer Carlos Yanez Jr. is slowly recovering and faces a long road ahead, family members say.
Yanez's family packed a Cook County courthouse Monday as Emonte Morgan, the man charged with wounding their loved one and fatally shooting CPD Officer Ella French, appeared before a judge.
Morgan entered a not guilty plea on all 85 counts in connection with the Aug. 7 shooting, including first degree murder, two counts of attempted murder of a police officer and unlawful use of a weapon. The suspect's brother, Eric Morgan, 19, has also been with multiple crimes related to the shooting.
He is accused of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon with a prior conviction.
Yanez Jr. continues to recover in the hospital, his mother, Graciela Yanez, said, as she gathered with relatives Monday, pleading with the public to pray for her son.
"I’d like to thank all the doctors that was with my son and protected him, and he’s alive today because of them," she stated.
Inside the courtroom, the officer's relatives came face-to-face with the man accused of shooting their loved one.
"Most of the emotions I went through can’t be said on TV. Every dad would have to ask himself how do I feel? That’s what I felt," said Carlos Yanez Sr., the officer's father, a retired Chicago police officer himself.
Now, family members say, they're focused on being there for Yanez Jr., and taking things day by day as he continues to improve.
"It’s been challenging," his wife, Brenda Yanez, said. "I think it’s easy to see physical wounds but it’s more difficult to see the emotional, psychological. That’s a struggle everyday."