NEW YORK — Thousands of uniformed police officers from across the U.S. are expected to attend the funeral Sunday of the second New York Police Department officer fatally shot with his partner in their patrol car two weeks ago.
Buddhist monks will lead a Chinese ceremony for Officer Wenjian Liu, followed by a traditional police ceremony with eulogies led by a chaplain. The funeral follows a somber wake the day before as mourners lined up for blocks on a cold, rainy day to pay their respects.
Liu, 32, had served as a policeman for seven years and was married just two months when he was killed with his partner, Officer Rafael Ramos, on Dec. 20. Ramos’ funeral was held a week ago.
“This is a really tragic story,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters following the wake, held just two days after the death of his own father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
“This is really pointless. It had nothing to do with them,” he said of Liu and Ramos. “They did nothing wrong. … It was pure and random hatred.”
The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, killed himself shortly after the brazen daytime ambush on a Brooklyn street.
Investigators say Brinsley was an emotionally disturbed loner who had made references online to the killings this summer of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, vowing to put “wings on pigs.”
The deaths strained an already tense relationship between city police unions and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who union leaders have said contributed to an environment that allowed the killings by supporting protests following the deaths of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The head of the rank-and-file police union, which is negotiating a contract with the city, turned his back on the mayor at a hospital the day of the killings. The act was imitated by hundreds of officers standing outside Ramos’ funeral who turned their backs toward a giant TV screen as de Blasio’s remarks were being broadcast.
Many people, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, have since called for calm, urging all parties to tone down the rhetoric. And this weekend, police Commissioner William Bratton sent a memo to all commands urging respect, declaring “a hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance.”
On Saturday, officers standing outside the Brooklyn funeral home where Liu was displayed dressed in full uniform in an open casket saluted as the mayor and commissioner entered.
De Blasio will deliver remarks at Liu’s funeral.
Liu’s funeral arrangements were delayed so relatives from China could travel to New York. Burial will follow at Cypress Hills Cemetery.
On Saturday, a small vigil was established in Chinatown and community members gathered, burning pieces of paper in honor of Liu in keeping with Chinese tradition.
Uniformed officers from across the country said they traveled to remember Liu because of their own tradition — solidarity among those who wear the uniform.
“When it happens here, it happens to us,” Los Angeles Police Department Officer Hannu Tarjamo said of the killings Saturday after the wake. “It doesn’t matter if it happens here, or in L.A., or in Louisiana. It’s an act of savagery that should be condemned by society.”
MIKE BALSAMO, Associated Press