Officer Ella French

Man Conducted ‘Straw Purchase' to Buy Gun Used in Killing of CPD Officer Ella French: Feds

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An Indiana man is facing federal charges after he allegedly illegally purchased a firearm and gave it to the convicted felon accused of shooting and killing Chicago police officer Ella French, according to a new federal indictment.

According to a federal indictment, Jamel Danzy, 29, is charged with conspiracy to violate federal firearm laws in connection to the purchase of the weapon that was used in the shooting that left French dead and her partner fighting for his life.

The indictment alleges that Danzy engaged in a “conspiracy to violate federal firearm laws” with the purchase of the weapon. He “knowingly transferred” the weapon to an unnamed out-of-state resident, made a false written statement to acquire the firearm, and disposed of it to a convicted felon, according to the indictment.

Danzy is currently in federal custody, and will face a detention hearing on Wednesday.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who is also chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a statement calling the revelation “infuriating,” and vowed to continue pushing for stronger legislation to punish gun traffickers.

“The news that Officer French was killed and her partner wounded by a straw-purchased Indiana handgun is infuriating,” he said in a statement. “I have been pushing for stronger penalties against these straw purchases for years. The gun dealers who make their profits from these deadly transactions have fought our efforts, while their political fans mock Chicago’s efforts to monitor gun sales.”

Durbin says he will write to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging the Department of Justice to “commit to a coordinated investigation” and prosecution effort against straw-purchases in the wake of the shooting.  

According to the criminal complaint, the weapon was used in the shooting Saturday that killed Officer French and critically wounded her partner.

The shooting occurred just after 9 p.m. near the intersection of 63rd Street and Bell Avenue. According to Chicago police, French and her partner initiated a traffic stop at that time, and when they approached the vehicle they were fired at.

French was struck in the head, and was transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead. Her partner was also hit by gunfire, and was taken to an area hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

One of the suspects in the vehicle, whom police allege is the one that fired the fatal shots, was also hit by gunfire, and was taken to an area hospital before being taken into custody. A second individual was also arrested at the scene.

A third suspect was arrested Sunday morning.

Police now believe that the weapon used in the shooting was purchased through a “straw man,” in circumvention of federal gun trafficking laws.

Federal authorities allege that Danzy conspired with "Individual A," whom the indictment identifies as the accused shooter in French's killing, to purchase a weapon and to give it to him.

The indictment alleges that "Individual A" couldn't legally purchase a firearm because of a felony conviction in the state of Wisconsin.

Federal agents confronted Danzy about the purchase at his place of employment on Sunday. After initially lying about the purchase, agents say that Danzy admitted that he had purchased the weapon for "Individual A," and knew about the conviction that would have prevented the individual from purchasing the weapon for himself.

Authorities also allege that the vehicle that was approached by Officer French and her partner had an Indiana registration that identified Danzy as the vehicle's owner. The indictment alleges that "Individual A" gave Danzy money to purchase the vehicle as well.

Danzy was not present in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, according to the federal indictiment.

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