A 29-year-old Chicago police officer, Ella French, was shot and killed during a traffic stop in August 2021. Despite claims on social media, French did not have any children.
On Aug. 7, 2021, 29-year-old police officer Ella French was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Chicago. As this news started making its way around the internet, so did some misinformation about French’s death. On social media, many people incorrectly claimed that French was killed shortly after returning from maternity leave, and that she was the mother of a 2-month-old daughter.
None of the aforementioned sources made any mention of where the information originated. The Daily Mail, for example, simply stated that “Ella French ha(d) just returned from maternity leave, and leaves behind a two-month-old daughter” without providing any citations for this claim.
As this rumor circulated on social media, the Chicago Sun-Times attempted to correct the record. Andrew French, Ella French’s brother, told the local outlet that his sister wasn’t married, and that she did not have any children.
The Sun-Times reported: “Andrew French said his sister was not married and had no children, despite stories being circulated on social media Sunday.”
A Chicago police officer was killed and two others — including another officer — were wounded in a gunfight Saturday in West Englewood, officials said.
The shooting happened 9:08 p.m. in the 6300 block of South Bell Street. Three officers had pulled over a car with three people inside when one of the people, a passenger, shot at the police, Supt. David Brown said at a news conference.
Two officers were hit. One, a 29-year-old woman with three and a half years at the Police Department, was killed. Police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office later identified her as Ella French. She is survived by her mother and brother, Brown said.
It’s unclear where this rumor originated. Chicago reporter Stephanie Lulay attempted to trace its origins and found that some of the earliest examples were posted by unverified accounts the morning after French’s death. The false rumor quickly snowballed and was spread by tabloids, news outlets, and numerous verified social media accounts.
FACT CHECK: Int’l news sites, national pundits, blue-check influencers + police depts reported Chicago police officer Ella French, killed in the line of duty, left behind a 2-month-old baby.
Why didn’t local Chicago newsrooms report that?
Because it wasn’t true. 👇 pic.twitter.com/ZZUbWxBUEy
— Stephanie Lulay (@slulay2) August 9, 2021
French’s brother said his sister was the “epitome of a good Samaritan.” The Chicago Tribune reported:
French said his sister loved to travel. And most often, her travel partner was their mother. He said mother and daughter were one another’s best friends. The pair took trips together three or four times a year, he said.
“She was there for my mom. She was reliable. … She’s my sister, she’s my little sister. And as much as I was there for her when we were growing up, she was there for me. And I was proud of her, I’m still proud of her. Like this is — God took the wrong kid.”