New York City police guards saluted as Mayor Bill de Blasio entered a Brooklyn funeral home on Saturday with his police commissioner for the wake of the second of two patrol officers killed in an ambush last month.
Ahead of the wake for Wenjian Liu, believed to be the city’s first Chinese-American officer killed in the line of duty, Commissioner Bill Bratton told his force to refrain from the “act of disrespect” seen at the funeral of Liu’s partner, when some of those in uniform turned their backs on de Blasio.
“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,” Bratton wrote in a memo to be read on police roll calls over the weekend. Liu’s funeral is set for Sunday.
Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot to death on Dec. 20 as they sat in their squad car in Brooklyn. Their killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who killed himself soon after, had said he was seeking to avenge the deaths this summer of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the fate of the slain officer “a tragic story”.
“They were newlyweds, just had moved into their home, just had started the American dream. His parents were living with them and just a few months into the marriage, she’s now a widow, young man officer Lui, who this was his dream, to become an NYPD officer. In some ways, it’s the ultimate assimilation into America, into New York, to become a police officer,” said Cuomo.
The killing of Liu and Ramos has strained the already frayed relations between the rank and file and De Blasio, who was a critic of police policies when he ran for office in 2013. The mayor, who has a biracial son, has also offered qualified support for the wave of protests triggered late last year by the black men’s deaths in New York and Missouri.
Immediately after Liu and Ramos were shot, Patrick Lynch, the head of the city’s largest police union, expressed scorn for de Blasio. “There is blood on many hands,” he said. “It starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor.”
On Saturday, a few hundred mourners, a majority of whom were police officers in dress blue uniforms, lined up on a frigid and snowy afternoon outside the funeral home.
De Blasio and Bratton entered together the service together shortly after the funeral home opened, with officers standing guard by the funeral’s entrance saluting both men as they made their way inside.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, who died earlier this week, arrived later and shook the hands of police officers before entering the funeral home.
The funeral for Ramos last Sunday was among the largest in the history of the department, with more than 20,000 officers from around the country filling streets around the church.
When de Blasio began his eulogy there, many uniformed officers turned their backs on television monitors set up outside, in a gesture of disdain for the liberal mayor following his criticisms of police policies.