The former partner of murdered Chicago police officer Ella French was treated to a celebratory welcome as he emerged from a rehabilitation center on Thursday, where he spent the past two months recovering from injuries sustained on the job.
Carlos Yanez Jr., 39, was partially paralyzed and lost an eye in the Aug. 7 shooting during a routine traffic stop that killed the 29-year-old Frenchman.
A large crowd of well-wishers, including family members, fellow law enforcement officers and medical personnel, appeared outside the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, a rehab center in Chicago, to call Yanez Jr. with cheers and applause.
Some people displayed homemade signs that read “Carlos Strong” and photos of the officer, while others wore bracelets and T-shirts in honor of Yanez Jr.
Scroll down for video
Chicago police officer Carlos Yanez, Jr., 39, left a rehabilitation center in a wheelchair on Thursday, two months after a fatal shooting that killed his partner, Ella French.
Yanez Jr. was greeted with cheers and applause outside the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab
Yanez Jr. was greeted by a crowd of supporters. He waved and blew kisses to his benefactors
While getting hugs from family and friends, Yanez Jr. a serenade from a live mariachi band
Many supporters showed homemade signs that read ‘Carlos Strong’
The injured officer left the facility in a wheelchair, pressing his hand to his heart in an apparent gesture of gratitude, flashing the thumbs up and blowing kisses to his many supporters as a live mariachi band and bagpipers addressed him, CBS Chicago reported.
“Thanks to all my family and friends for all the support,” he said.
Yanez Jr. honored his colleagues who saved his life by taking him to hospital after the shooting, the medics who treated his injuries and the rehabilitation clinic staff who helped him recover.
“I feel like my heart is going to burst,” said Yanez Jr. Aunt Nora LaPorta. “He has so much positivity in him.”
On August 7, French (left) and Yanez Jr. retired. (right) a car pulling over for expired license plates when a passenger opened fire, killing the female officer and seriously injuring her partner.
Eric Morgan is pictured just before the fatal shooting in police bodycam footage
Yanez Jr. survived after being shot multiple times, including once in the right eye
Yanez has a long road ahead of him on his road to recovery, with his aunt revealing he still has a bullet in his neck that doctors have been unable to remove.
The 39-year-old will continue his rehabilitation process at an outpatient clinic.
His father, Carlos Yanez Sr., said he will remain in an “unnamed location” until a permanent wheelchair-accessible home is found for him.
A GoFundMe campaign launched by Yanez Jr.’s sister. raised more than $366,000 in donations on Thursday.
On August 7, Yanez Jr. and French were driving for expired license plates on 63rd Street and Bell Avenue when a passenger in the car opened fire, killing the female officer and seriously injuring her partner.
The suspect in the shooting, 21-year-old Monty Morgan, was shot in the abdomen by a third officer. He is arrested and charged with first degree murder of a peace officer and attempted murder.
Shooting suspect Monty Morgan, 21 (left), was charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer and attempted murder. His brother Eric Morgan, 22 (right), is on trial for gun possession and obstruction of justice
His brother, 22-year-old Eric Morgan, who was driving the vehicle according to prosecutors, was also arrested. He is charged with possession of weapons and a charge of obstruction of justice.
Both were held without bail in the Cook County Jail.
A third man accused of trading as a straw buyer to buy the gun used in the shooting is on trial for federal gun possession.
French’s death marked the first fatal shooting of a serving Chicago officer since 2018 and the first female officer to be fatally shot in 33 years.