Chicago Police Officer Ella French, 29, was shot in the head and killed on Saturday.
In response, Chicago police hoped to honor her memory with a bagpipe sendoff, a “sacred” tradition for officers who died in the line of duty, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
French was denied this honor.
Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot then claimed that COVID restrictions were to blame for the cancellation of the bagpipe tribute.
This turned out to be completely untrue.
On Saturday night, officers and other first responders had gathered outside the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office to participate in the sendoff, according to the Sun-Times.
It was then that First Deputy Police Superintendent Eric Carter chose to subvert the ritual.
“We don’t have 20 minutes for this s***,” Carter can be heard saying in a recording obtained by the Sun-Times.
“We’re not waiting on the bagpipes. Go ahead and get the vehicle inside.”
“Take it all the way inside. Do not stop.”
Chicago officers present were infuriated.
Lightfoot backed Carter’s decision, arguing that COVID restrictions implemented by the new coroner were to blame for the ceremony’s cancellation.
If the prolonged sendoff had occurred, “the family would have been delayed exponentially in getting to the morgue,” Lightfoot added in her statement to the Sun-Times.
“My understanding is there was no official honor guard that night. There was — I’m going to choose my words carefully — I think well-meaning, but not well-organized, group that wanted to hijack the procession, which would have meant that the family would have been delayed exponentially in getting to the morgue.”
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office itself then put out a statement, confirming that “rules for processions” have not changed since the start of the COVID pandemic.
“First responders have always gathered in the office parking lot and dock to pay respects to fallen police officers and firefighters. … At no time did personnel from the Medical Examiner’s Office try to impede officers or bagpipers,” the office said, according to the Sun-Times.
Officers remain furious with both Carter and Lightfoot over the incident — as tensions between Chicago police and the mayor’s office continue to skyrocket.
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