Scar by scar, former Chicago Police Officer Carlos Yanez on Wednesday documented the injuries he suffered after being shot repeatedly during a 2021 traffic stop that claimed the life of his partner, Ella French.
With a slow swinging gait, a lasting result of his wounds, Yanez crossed a fifth-floor courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse to take the stand on the second day of the trial of the accused gunman, Emonte Morgan.
Once sworn in, Yanez leaned over and showed jurors a dimple on the top of his head where one of the bullets hit him after he, French and another officer stopped Morgan and his brother in West Englewood.
His right eye had to be removed, he said, and there is a lump on his neck, below his right ear, where a bullet remains because doctors believe it too dangerous to remove.
“They told my family it could be dangerous [to remove the bullet],” he said. “So they said it’s not hurting. It should not be removed.
“I currently have tinnitus,” Yanez said. “Like a fire alarm going off constantly.”
Yanez said he can’t recall parts of the traffic stop, although he has watched body camera footage of it. What he does remember is lying on his back, he said.
“As I was trying, fighting to breath, I heard gunfire right above me,” Yanez said. “I heard [his partner Joshua Blas] screaming, ‘Yanez, Yanez. French, French.’’’
He said he remembered being lifted and carried to a squad car that rushed him to the hospital.
“The second officer I heard was like, ‘Pick him up, pick him up’ and they moved me to a vehicle,” he recalled.
When he awoke, there where tubes in his mouth and he couldn’t speak. It would take more surgery and two months in a hospital in-patient facility before he could be escorted out in a wheelchair, he said.
When prosecutors asked him to detail the struggles as he walked into the courtroom Wednesday, Yanez said it took nearly a year of intensive outpatient therapy before he could use a walker to get around.
Watching body-cam videos of the shooting in court appeared to take an emotional toll on Yanez. As the first video played, the former officer slowly drew a deep breath. Frequently he wiped his eyes with a tissue and at times rubbed his shoulder roughly with his palm, as if trying to relieve an ache.
Throughout his testimony, the former officer looked to the ceiling and let out deep breaths to maintain his composure.
Morgan, 23, faces counts of murder and attempted murder, among other charges, for allegedly killing French and critically wounding Yanez.
“Thank you for coming today, I know it’s been incredibly hard,” Assistant Public Defender Ryan Carlsen acknowledged to Yanez on cross-examination.
Carlsen had few questions for Yanez.
Carlsen noted Yanez’s testimony about being trained to alert other officers to the presence of a gun and asked if Yanez heard himself do so on the videos. Yanez said he did not.
Carlsen also asked several questions about how his injuries might have affected what he could see and hear on the scene.
“You couldn’t see at that point?” Carlsen asked.
“Correct,” Yanez said.
Asked if his hearing was affected at that moment as well, Yanez responded quietly that, in the moments after he was shot, “I have no clue what the extent of my damage was.”