Hundreds lined up Wednesday afternoon to pay their respects to fallen Chicago Police Officer Ella French, who will be laid to rest nearly two weeks after she was shot and killed and her partner critically wounded when a traffic stop turned violent.
The visitation will take place until 9 p.m. Wednesday night at the St. Rita of Cascia and a funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday.
"Our son is a police officer and felt this was an appropriate time to wave the flag for people who are helping us," said Ken Stiak, who was in line to pay his respects to French.
Some in line are the children and grandchildren of police officers like Isabella Wilson, who was wearing her grandfather's police jacket.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
"I want to be a police officer when I am older," Wilson said. "Because it reminds me of my grandpa."
"I am at the end of my career," said police Officer Joey Bowes. "Seen this way too many times...sorry for all her co-workers. I didn't know her, but she seemed to be an extremely good police officer."
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown released visitation and funeral information Friday, encouraging all members of the department to "join in paying tribute" to the 29-year-old officer killed in the line of duty on Aug. 7.
French joined the department in April 2018, according to police officials. She is the first Chicago police officer to be killed in the line of duty since officers Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmalejo were struck and killed by a Metra train while responding to a call of shots fired in Dec. 2018.
"During her short but courageous career, Officer French earned a Department Commendation, a Physical Fitness Award, and 14 Honorable Mentions," Brown said in his release.
She is survived by her mother and four brothers.
French's brother, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, called her "the best sister" and described her as a "humanitarian" and the "epitome of a good Samaritan."
"My sister’s always been a person of integrity," Andrew French told the Tribune. "She’s always done the right thing even when nobody’s looking. She’s always believed in people and believed in doing the right thing... She’s always believed in taking care of people that can’t take care of themselves."
Her colleagues described her in similar words.
“She truly showed the community that she loved them and would do anything for them," said fellow officer and colleague Kenneth Griffin.
French was killed after she and her partner were shot during a late-night traffic stop on Aug. 7 in the city's West Englewood neighborhood.
Police said officers stopped a car with three people inside near 63rd Street and Bell for expired plates.
When the officers approached the car, one of the vehicle’s occupants opened fire, according to authorities. French was shot in the head and her partner was also shot and remains in critical condition at a Chicago hospital.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled French’s death a homicide.
Two brothers have since been charged in the shooting. A third person was arrested but never charged.
"We will #NeverForget the true bravery [Officer French] exemplified as she laid her life down to protect others," Chicago police tweeted the following day. "Please hold her family, loved ones and fellow Chicago Police officers in your thoughts as we grieve the loss of this hero."