(Adds mourners’ quotes, details from outside church, background
details, JetBlue offering free flights to law enforcement)
By Jonathan Allen and Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK Dec 26 (Reuters) – Police officers in dress
uniform and other mourners lined up quietly for two blocks at a
New York City church to pay their respects to one of two
officers shot by a man who said he was avenging killings of
unarmed black men by police.
Targeted for their uniform, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu
were slain last Saturday afternoon while sitting in their patrol
car in Brooklyn in what is only the seventh instance of police
partners being killed together in the city in more than 40
Draped in the New York Police Department’s green, white and
blue flag, Ramos’s coffin was carried into the church he
regularly attended in his suburban Queens neighborhood by police
officers as colleagues from his Brooklyn station house stood
“He was this beam of light,” said Elizabeth Vidal, who had
known Ramos for more than a decade as a fellow congregant and
usher at Christ Tabernacle Church as she waited to go into the
wake, her voice cracking with sadness.
Ramos, 40, had been on the force for two years and was
raising two teenage sons with his wife, Maritza.
His funeral on Saturday will come at the end of a week in
which blame swirled and heated rhetoric flashed across a city
that had largely escaped some of the more violent outbursts seen
in six months of nationwide protests against police use of
In extraordinary scenes at the hospital where Liu and Ramos
were taken on Saturday, police union leaders, angered by Mayor
Bill de Blasio’s qualified support of the protesters, said the
mayor had “blood on his hands”. As the mayor arrived at the
hospital, some officers turned their backs to him in a pointed
display of disrespect.
A visibly angered de Blasio later snapped at some
journalists at a press conference, chastising them for what he
called “divisive” coverage, while urging activists to halt
demonstrations until after the police funerals. In the following
days, however, small groups of protesters continued to take to
the streets chanting “How do you spell murderer? NYPD” and other
The mayor has said he hopes the funerals will help unite a
divided city. Some people attending the wake saw little reason
to refrain from criticism.
Marta Mares, who said she only learned Ramos was a neighbor
after his death, arrived with her daughter two hours before the
church doors were due to open.
“We want to support NYPD officers because now we can see
what danger they are in, especially under Mayor de Blasio,” she
Thousands of police officers from departments around the
country were expected to join U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and
city and state officials for Ramos’s funeral service at the
church on Saturday. Nearly 700 officers had taken up an offer
JetBlue Airways Corp to fly two members of a law
enforcement agency to New York for free to attend, an airline
Police had yet to announce details for the funeral of Liu,
32, while federal officials helped some of his relatives in
China travel to the United States.
The execution-style killing was so swift, according to the
city’s police commissioner, that the officers may never have
seen their assailant, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who soon after shot
himself and died in a nearby subway station.
The two officers had been reassigned from another precinct
following complaints about violent crime from residents at a
housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
Brinsley, who was black, wrote online before traveling from
Maryland to New York for the attack that he wanted to kill a
couple of police officers to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner
and Michael Brown, unarmed black men killed by white policemen
in New York and Missouri.
The deaths of Garner and Brown and the decision not to
prosecute the officers responsible ignited protests across the
country, renewing a debate about race in America that has drawn
in U.S. President Barack Obama.
The killing of Ramos and Liu further frayed bonds between
many New York police officers and de Blasio as deals with the
gravest crisis of his year-old mayoral administration.
Protest leaders expressed horror at the killings, saying
they could not be held responsible for the actions of a man
described by city officials as emotionally troubled. Brinsley
shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore before traveling
Relatives of Garner joined civil rights activist the Rev. Al
Sharpton on Christmas Day to say prayers for both Ramos and Liu.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Howard Goller and
Source Article from http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/12/26/usa-police-idINL1N0UA0K120141226