CHICAGO - Chicago Police Officer Carlos Yanez Jr., the partner of fallen Officer Ella French, was released Thursday from a local rehab facility.
Yanez Jr. was greeted with a live mariachi band, family and fellow police officers when he left the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab.
"All my family and friends, thank you for all the support. From the officers that saved my life — you know driving me to the University of Chicago — and the medical staff," Yanez Jr. told reporters outside the facility. "All the nurses and [Patient Care Technicians], you know, especially here at this facility. It’s the best in the country."
Yanez Jr. was wounded in the August shooting that left Officer French dead. Three officers pulled over a gray SUV at 63rd Street and Bell Avenue for having expired license plates. The stop turned violent when one of the passengers pulled a gun and fired multiple shots at the officers.
Chicago police said at the time of the shooting that Yanez was "fighting for his very life" and in critical condition.
"After being shot five times you know, when I woke up in the hospital you know, it could have been a lot worse," said Yanez.
Yanez Jr.’s father, Carlos Yanez Sr., also gave thanks to the outpouring support his family received.
"He’s come a long way but he’s got a long way to go," Yanez Sr. said. "Thank you all."
Yanez is still lamenting over the death of his partner, Officer Ella French.
"It's sad what happened to Ella, she's in my heart," said Yanez.
Yanez knows he has a long road ahead for his recovery journey.
"The doctors told me I need to wear glasses now to protect the eye that I do have. It's something new to me because I always had 20/20 vision. I laugh about it now because I still have 20/20 in this eye and I still have to wear glasses," said Yanez.
Yanez celebrated seven years with the department on Aug. 25.
"Happy anniversary. 25, August, 2014. Seven years. We did it," said Yanez with a smile on his face.
His family says Yanez still has a long road to recovery.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.