Emonte Morgan is the 21-year old man accused of being the gunman in the murder of Chicago police officer Ella French and the wounding of her partner.
On August 9, 2021, Morgan was charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer, attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer (two counts), aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, Superintendent David Brown said in a news conference. “This is the first step towards justice as we work to honor our fallen officer and her partner,” Brown said.
His brother, Eric Morgan, 22, is also facing charges in connection with the shootings: aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and obstruction of justice. Brown confirmed that the Morgans are brothers. A woman who was in the car with the two Morgan brothers has not been charged. Brown did not name her. Police say Emonte was the shooter and Eric was driving the car.
The brothers have ties to both Chicago and to Madison, Wisconsin (where a judge gave Eric Morgan probation for a felony conviction recently), according to their social media pages. Emonte Morgan claimed he was a “musician” on Instagram. He linked to this YouTube video of a rap song; the photos in it appear to be a tribute to another man.
“I had it ruff as a shordie,” Eric Morgan wrote with one photo on Facebook. “Man, f*** 12 man,” he said in a Facebook video. That translates to “f*** the police.” Heavy blurred out the expletive in the screenshot below. Brown said that the murder weapon was acquired by Eric Morgan through a straw purchaser because he had a felony conviction, which a federal complaint says was out of Wisconsin.
French was previously identified as the 29-year-old Chicago police officer who was shot and killed in a traffic stop on August 7, 2021. She was remembered as a dedicated public servant and “humanitarian” who possessed “attributes that you don’t find in this world anymore.”
Those descriptors came from her brother to the Chicago Tribune the day after the shooting that also left French’s partner fighting for his life in critical condition.
Brown, speaking in a news conference the day after the shooting, asked Chicago residents to “wrap their arms around our police officers and encourage them to continue their great work in protecting us all.” He added, “Officers need this city to pray for their strength, to pray for peace, that they are comforted and that their families are comforted.” [Keith Thornton, a Chicago police dispatcher, is being praised for his handling of the tragedy. You can read more about that and listen to dispatch audio here.] Brown said police have recovered 7,536 guns this year, a 23% increase over the same period a year ago. The night after the shootings, Chicago police recovered an additional 33 guns. “Let that sink in because every encounter that recovers a gun is a potential deadly force encounter,” said Brown.
The brothers’ mother is now accused of causing a disturbance at the hospital where Emonte Morgan is being treated, according to CBS Chicago, which reported that Evalena Flores was arrested on Tuesday morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Emonte Morgan Opened Fire With an Illegal Gun During a Traffic Stop for Expired Plates, Police Say
On Saturday, August 7, 2021, at 9 p.m., officers assigned to a community safety team “conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with three occupants. There were also three officers in the same car that stopped these three occupants,” said Brown. “Officers were fired upon and they returned fire. One of our officers was struck by one of the offenders’ bullets and sustained a fatal gunshot wound.” Brown says they were initially stopped over expired plates.
Emonte Morgan “struggled with both officers… the struggle went from the trunk of the car to near the insides of the car and the shots rang out from that vantagepoint, from the passenger front seat of the car, which is where he was originally seated,” said Brown.
He said the suspected gunman was also shot and a weapon was recovered.
According to Brown, French had three and a half years on the Chicago police force. She started on the job in April of 2018, he said. Her partner who was shot has six years on the force.
“Despite the shock, grief, pain and sorrow we feel this morning, our brothers and sisters in blue put this uniform on each and every day. They go to work risking everything to serve the people of Chicago,” Brown said.
“They come to work, willing to run toward danger, toward gunfire and they’re willing to sacrifice their lives to save the lives of perfect strangers. They went to work today. After last night’s tragic events, officers are working now. Right now, continuing this brave, courageous work of protecting the people of Chicago. It’s in the honor of our lost officers that we work, that we sacrifice, that we serve, that we risk everything.”
He added, “A new shift of officers grieving and heartbroken will do the same thing tonight and tomorrow night and each and every night they serve. They go down dark alleys no one would go down. They confront violent offenders no one would confront… we are all made safe, and we sleep well at night because of these brave men and women.”
The injured officer is “incrementally improving,” said Brown.
Without these kinds of traffic stops, Chicago wouldn’t be safe, according to Brown. “Officers put themselves in harm’s way stopping suspects like this… these are dangerous people who don’t mind killing officers or people in Chicago,” he said.
2. The Gun Was Purchased by a Straw Buyer because Eric Morgan Had a Felony Out of Dane County, Wisconsin, Authorities Say
The gun used in this shooting was “illegally possessed and was the product of a straw purchase,” Brown said in the news conference.
Jamel Danzy of Hammond, Indiana, purchased the firearm at a federal firearms dealer in Hammond in March, authorities allege. He falsely identified himself as the actual buyer, they say. “he was actually the straw purchaser who bought the gun” at the request of Eric Morgan, who had a felony prohibiting him from buying it for himself, said Brown.
Danzy is charged with conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws, said Brown. He’s facing five years in prison. You can read the Danzy complaint here.
“Danzy admitted that when he purchased Firearm A for Individual A in Indiana, DANZY knew that Individual A lived in Illinois. Specifically, DANZY said that, prior to purchasing Firearm A for Individual A, DANZY knew that Individual A lived in Chicago and that DANZY had driven Individual A to Individual A’s residence in Chicago,” the complaint says.
The complaint says of Eric Morgan, “DANZY knew that Individual A could not legally purchase or possess a firearm due to a criminal conviction in Wisconsin.” Danzy was released from jail on bond, which upset the police superintendent, according to CBS News. According to CBS Chicago, he is a teacher’s aide with no criminal history who told the station he is “devastated.”
“I mean, things happen. Things happen for the wrong reason. I really don’t want to talk more about it. It happened, so I’m out, and I’m happy that I’m out and everything – so I’m happy to see my family. I’m not a criminal. I’m a good person,” Danzy told CBS Chicago.
Wisconsin Circuit Court records show that Eric Morgan, 22, was charged with felony armed robbery as a party to the crime, a class C felony, in Dane County, but the charge was dismissed on a prosecutor’s motion. Instead, he was convicted of Theft-Movable Property fr. Person/Corpse, a class G felony. The Eric Morgan accused in the Chicago police shootings confirmed his date of birth on his Facebook page as being the same date of birth as the Wisconsin defendant.
Dane County Wisconsin Judge Ellen Berz gave him three years probation:
Berz is a former public defender who ousted an incumbent judge who was an appointee of former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. She also worked as an UW-Madison adjunct professor. She is a controversial judge who was previously criticized by Dane County victims’ advocates for her comments about sexual assault and domestic violence victims.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told Heavy in a statement, “It is my understanding the Armed Robber count associated to Mr. Morgan was amended to a Felony Theft from Person. At the time the case was resolved Mr. Morgan did not have a criminal history known to the State. The evidence also did not place a weapon in Mr. Morgan’s possession during the incident. The State recommended three (3) years of probation with 100 days jail as a condition.”
You can read the Dane County criminal complaint against Eric Morgan here.
3. The Brothers’ Social Media Pages Show Ties to Madison, Wisconsin & Eric’s Page Calls Emonte ‘Blood’
The brothers have ties to Madison, Wisconsin, according to posts they made on social media. One post revealed their grandmother lives in that city. On Facebook, Eric Morgan wrote that he was a “Cashier at True Religion Brand Jeans” who “Went to James Madison Memorial High School – Class of 2015,” which is in Madison. However, his court entry for Dane County, Wisconsin, shows a Chicago apartment address in the name of their mother, Evaleena Flores.
Emonte’s Instagram page shows him smoking, flashing what appear to be gang signs, flashing a wad of cash, and posing with a young child. “Miss you blood,” he wrote with a photo of another man. One video on his page from 40 weeks ago is captioned Madison, Wisconsin. Eric’s Facebook page’s top post is an angry comment at a man accused in the murder of a Chicago woman.
In 2018, Eric wrote of Emonte, “BLOOD GO CRAZY GO SUBSCRIBE TO HIS MUSIC WE TAKING OFF 🤟😈🤣.”
Their brother Aunray Flores died at age 22. Eric wrote on Facebook about that death, writing, “imma make sure my nieces know what a young king u was u really had all the potential in da world I’m so short on words rn I can barely breath man.”
Brown said that police officers in Chicago feel unsupported by the media and society.
He said that officers have a lot of anger “toward what has been a consistent beat down of them not just on social media, from different parts of our society. Just constant, constant criticism. Hyper criticism to a certain extent. When they do something well, no acknowledgement, no penetration in the news cycle…”
He said there are “very few headlines of their hard work.”
“They go down dark alleys none of you would go down to protect you. They run toward bullets,” said Brown.
4. Emonte Morgan Has a Criminal History, Brown Says
Brown initially said the suspected gunman has a criminal history for robbery, receiving probation. “His criminal history is not extensive,” he said.
However, WGN-TV reported that Emonte Morgan “was previously charged with minor traffic offenses, including leaving the scene, operating a vehicle without a license and driving uninsured. He was also charged with battery and theft in 2019.”
Brown said the driver also has a criminal history but not an extensive one.
The officers were wearing body cameras. He said French’s mother requested that police withhold some biographical information on her daughter and they wanted to “honor her request.”
The Fraternal Order of Police: Chicago Lodge No. 7 named French on Facebook, writing on August 8, “Late last night 2 of our own were shot. We lost a sister in blue. Officer Ella French was murdered while conducting a traffic stop with her partners. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and co-workers. The 2nd officer is still fighting for his life. Please keep him in your prayers and thoughts.” The family and Cook County Medical Examiner also released the officer’s name, according to The Tribune.
Neighbors helped apprehend one of the suspects, the Tribune reported. According to Brown, 38 Chicago police officers have been shot at or shot in 2021, with 11 of those being struck. Of those 11, one – French – died. He called those “extraordinary numbers,” saying that, in 2020, 79 officers were shot at or shot, a 500% increase over the previous year.
5. French’s Brother Recalled How She Always Thought of Other People Before Herself & Was a ‘Person of Integrity’
Andrew French, Ella French’s older brother, told the Chicago Tribune that French always thought of others first.
“My sister’s always been a person of integrity. 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 the small people. She’s always believed in taking care of people that can’t take care of themselves,” he told the newspaper, which said he is a veteran of the Iraq War.
French told the newspaper that his sister was motivated to get people help rather than “throwing people in jail” and supported therapy and social services. “She was a humanitarian. She believed in human rights. She was one of the officers on the force that thought they needed reform,” he said to the Tribune. “Because she’s seen the front line, just like I have. She’s always been a very caring person … When I was in Iraq, me and her, we talked. And she has some attributes that you don’t find in this world anymore.”
Andrew French also told the Tribune: “She was a very strong individual, she was always very bright and charismatic and she always cared, very much, way more than other people did. She would go out of her way to make sure people were good. Like, she was the epitome of a good Samaritan. And she was the best sister. It didn’t matter what I was going through or how hard things were hitting me, she was always there,” he said.
Brown and Andrew French both told the news media that social media rumors that Ella French had a small baby at home and had just returned from maternity leave were false. Andrew French told the Tribune that she was not married and did not have children.