NEW YORK—Thousands of police officers gathered in the rain Sunday to pay their respects at slain officer Wenjian Liu’s funeral.
Liu and officer Rafael Ramos were shot and killed in December in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn by an emotionally disturbed individual who targeted them for their uniforms. Ramos’ funeral was held last week, while Liu’s family in China had to wait to obtain visas to travel over.
The service began with remarks made by the F.B.I. director, James Comey, who thanked Liu for his service. He said that the number of police officer deaths increased to 115 last year.
“His life was taken while fighting for all that is decent and good,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in his speech.
The mayor spoke of Liu’s upbringing, studying and attending public school while his father worked in the garment industry. In high school, Liu would stop playing basketball with friends early so that he could buy food and cook dinner for his parents.
Later, when Liu’s father gave remarks, he said through tears, “My son is a filial piety son. Wenjian, you are the best son. Your actions gave pride to all of us.”
Liu had originally been on the path to becoming an accountant, but the events of 9/11 changed his mind. Instead, he worked his way up from auxiliary police officer to police officer.
“When two of his fellow auxiliary officers were murdered by a madman in Greenwich Village,” said New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, referring to a 2007 shooting incident, “He could have turned away. Instead he took the oath and became a police officer.”
Every day he would call his father to tell the family that he was safe and on his way home, so they wouldn’t worry, his father recalled.
The mayor told the story of how during a routine visit to an elderly person who had taken a fall, this time a veteran who had served in Vietnam, Liu stayed after helping to listen to the man’s younger days as a pilot.
“So he poured the man a soda and listened to war stories and looked at photographs,” said de Blasio. After that, Liu and his partner wrapped the man up in blankets.
Liu’s widow, Pei Xia Chen, wept and called Liu her soulmate, best friend, and hero in a speech. She thanked police for traveling long distances to attend the funeral.
Bratton reminded everyone Sunday that he had promoted Liu and Ramos posthumously to first grade detectives from their previous positions as patrolmen.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had been scheduled to give remarks at the funeral Sunday as well, but instead attended the wake on Saturday, while grieving the passing of his own father.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer and several other elected officials attended but did not give speeches.
While de Blasio spoke, many officers turned their backs on him, only turning back to face front when Bratton took the podium. The gesture, repeated on several occasions in recent weeks, is a sign that the relationship between the mayor and police has not mended yet.
Photos and more updates to come, updated by the hour.