Fact-Check: No, Chicago Police Officer Ella French Didn’t Leave Behind an Infant Child

Ella French’s brother and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown have both said claims circulating online that French had a child and recently returned from maternity leave are inaccurate.

Police Supt. David Brown and Mayor Lori Lightfoot speak at a Sunday news conference. (Tom Ahern, Deputy Director-News Affairs for Chicago Police Department/Twitter)

Ella French, a 29-year-old Chicago police officer, was shot and killed on Aug. 7 in a gunfight that wounded two others. The shooting happened after three officers pulled over a car and one of the people inside shot at the police, said David Brown, superintendent for the Chicago department.

He told reporters that French is survived by her mother and brother.

But in the days since, social media users have posted about someone else French supposedly left behind: an infant.

"This is Officer Ella French," conservative commentator Ryan Fournier said on Facebook on Aug. 8. "She was shot and killed last night in Chicago while responding to a call. She leaves behind a 2 month son." Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary for then-President Donald Trump, tweeted that she had a "2-month-old daughter" and that "Ella sacrificed her life in the line of duty and her daughter will grow up knowing her mother was a hero."

Other widely-shared posts echoed this. One said she had "just got back from maternity leave."

But that’s wrong.

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

On Aug. 9, Stephanie Lulay, managing editor of Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit news outlet in the city, wondered in a series of tweets why international news sites, national pundits and even police departments reported that French was survived by her newborn child while local Chicago newsrooms didn’t.

"Because it wasn’t true," Lulay said.

Ella French’s brother, Andrew French, told the Chicago Sun-Times that his sister wasn’t married and had no children.

Brown also said this during an Aug. 8 news conference. A reporter asked about rumors that French had just returned from maternity leave and had a child.

"That’s not accurate," Brown said. You can watch the exchange about 17 minutes into a recording of the conference.

We rate these posts False.


Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 8, 2021

Facebook post, Aug. 8, 2021

Facebook post, Aug. 8, 2021

Facebook post, Aug. 8, 2021

Kayleigh McEnany tweet, Aug. 9, 2021

Block Club Chicago, Chicago police officer killed in shooting, another seriously wounded: ‘We need your prayers,’ Aug. 8, 2021

Stephanie Lulay tweet, Aug. 9, 2021

Chicago Sun-Times, Slain Chicago police officer ‘wanted to do good for the world,’ brother says, Aug. 8, 2021

Chicago news conference about shooting, Aug. 8, 2021