Prosecutor: Man admitted killing cop during traffic stop

Posted at 8:07 AM, August 11, 2021 and last updated 1:45 PM, July 19, 2023

By DON BABWIN Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — A man charged with killing a Chicago police officer admitted to investigators that he pulled his handgun out of his waistband during a traffic stop and opened fire, a prosecutor told a judge Tuesday.

At a bond hearing for Monty Morgan, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy provided the most details yet disclosed about the weekend traffic stop in which Officer Ella French was killed and another officer was critically injured. A third officer fired back at Morgan, who did not attend Tuesday’s hearing because he remains hospitalized.

This undated photo provided by the Chicago Police Department shows Officer Ella French, who was killed in the line of duty on August 7, 2021. (Chicago PD)

At the conclusion of the hearing, Cook County Judge Arthur Willis ordered Morgan — previously identified as Emonte Morgan — held without bond on charges of first-degree murder of a peace officer, attempted murder of two other officers, unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

“They didn’t have their weapons drawn, they weren’t firing on him, and callously (Morgan) shoots and kills one, and the other is in critical condition,” Willis said.

Police stopped the SUV Morgan was in because of expired plates. Morgan, 21, of Chicago, and his 22-year-old brother, Eric, who was driving, initially followed officers’ instructions, handing over the vehicle’s keys and getting out of the SUV. But the situation escalated after Monty Morgan refused to set down a drink and cellphone he was holding, Murphy said.

“He began physically jerking his arms away from the officers,” Murphy said.

Footage from police body cameras shows Morgan had a handgun tucked into his waistband, Murphy said. As he struggled with police, he began firing several shots, striking the 29-year-old French once in the head and a 39-year-old officer whose name has not been released in the right eye, right shoulder and in his brain.

Both officers fell to the ground face up, their body cameras still recording, Murphy said. At one point, Morgan could be seen stepping over the 39-year-old wounded officer before stepping out of view.

In the meantime, Eric Morgan had run off during the struggle, and the third officer had chased after him, Murphy said. When that officer heard gunshots, he ran back and exchanged gunfire with Monty Morgan before falling to the ground.

This undated booking photo provided by the Chicago Police Department shows Eric Morgan, one of two brothers who have been charged in a weekend shooting during a traffic stop that left one Chicago police officer dead and another seriously wounded. (Chicago Police Department via AP)

Eric Morgan also ran back, and his brother then handed the gun to him, according to court documents. The third officer got back up and shot at Monty Morgan again, hitting him in the abdomen.

Murphy said Monty Morgan gave a statement on video in which he admitted to drinking, having a gun and opening fire on two officers. An initial court appearance is set for Aug. 16.

At a separate bond hearing on Tuesday afternoon, a judge ordered Eric Morgan held without bond. Eric Morgan, who authorities say was captured in a yard where he had run to dump his brother’s gun, is charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and obstruction of justice.

A third man, Jamel Danzy, 29, of Indiana, is charged with supplying the semiautomatic handgun used in the shooting. He is accused of buying the weapon from a licensed gun dealer in Hammond, Indiana, in March and provided it to an Illinois resident who he knew could neither buy nor possess guns because of a felony conviction.

French was the first Chicago police officer to die from a gunshot in the line of duty in nearly three years.