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.