Chicago police officer honored for saving the life of Ella French’s partner
CHICAGO - Chicago Police Officer Nick Morales was the first backup to arrive at the scene the night Officer Ella French was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop.
He ran to French but quickly realized there was nothing he could do. She was dead.
"That’s when I heard Yanez just kind of moaning in the background," Morales said, referring to French’s partner, Carlos Yanez Jr., who’d also been shot in the head but was alive.
Morales, following an award ceremony Thursday honoring five officers who acted heroically the night of the West Englewood shooting, recounted the mad dash he made to get Yanez to University of Chicago Medical Center, where doctors were able to save his life.
Morales’ partner was busy chasing a gunman. More cops began to arrive.
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"It was a load-and-go situation. I grabbed a limb and so did three other officers, and we laid him in the back of the squad car, which was already pointed east, and I floored it, just peeled out and drove like a bat out of hell," he said.
Before screeching away, Morales realized he needed help. He looked at fellow officer Thomas Raap, who he’d never met before, and told him: "Get in the car! Let’s go!"
The pair tried to keep Yanez talking.
"He was asking us to call his wife, Brenda, and he was repeating her phone number. And we kept telling him, ‘You’re going to call her yourself. Don’t worry.’ But he kept saying ‘No, no. Call her, bro. Call her. Here’s the number," Morales said.
"And then the number wasn’t the same number he’d been giving us. And his words started to get a bit jumbled. And then he started talking about ‘Tell my son I love him’ and we were like ‘We’ve got to go faster.’"
Raap tried to keep an eye on the road to help avoid collisions as he reached back with one hand to keep Yanez from slipping off the back seat.
"From what we were told over the radio. Everyone was supposed to know we were coming. No one knew we were coming," he said.
The garage door normally used by ambulances to access the emergency department was closed, he said.
Morales got out of the car and began banging on the door and screaming for hospital attendants to open it.
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"I did everything besides pulling my gun out and shooting a couple in the air to open this damn door," he said.
"I just thank God the doctors inside were ready and they did what they had to do," he said.
Morales said he and other officers there the night of the shooting recently attended a surprise party for Yanez. "Our families are all friends now. Our kids know his little guy. He’s walking, talking, was downtown recently taking in the sights. It was something at the time we didn’t think would be possible. He’s a great guy," Morales said.
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"He was always constantly saying ‘I owe you. I owe you.’ And we told him ‘You don’t owe us anything. All you have to do is be with your family and your wife and enjoy the rest of your life. That’s it," he said.
Along with Morales, Officers Roger Ferreira, Brayan Jauregui and Daniel McAuliffe, as well as Sgt. Mathew Lopez, received awards Thursday from the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation during a ceremony at the Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union in the West Loop.
"The hardest part of this whole thing, the part we’ve dealt with for a while now, is not being able to do what we did for Yanez, for French," Morales said.