NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton drew salutes from some officers Saturday as they were arrived at the wake of a second New York Police Department officer killed in an ambush shooting.
The gesture of respect during the calling hours for Officer Wenjian Liu contrasted with the back-turning insults hundreds of officers displayed last week toward video screens showing the mayor speaking at the funeral of Liu’s police partner, Rafael Ramos. It also came after Bratton urged rank-and-file officers to refrain from making political statements at Liu’s wake and funeral.
“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,” Bratton said in a memo read to all commands at roll calls Friday and Saturday. “I issue no mandates, and I make no threats of discipline, but I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it.”
Police union officials, who are negotiating a contract with the city, had accused de Blasio of helping foster an anti-police atmosphere by supporting demonstrations following the chokehold death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island who resisted arrest.
The back-turning at Ramos’ funeral mimicked what some police union officials did outside a hospital when the officers were killed two weeks ago.
Liu and Ramos were ambushed in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street by Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Brinsley had made references online to the killings of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, vowing to put “wings on pigs.”
Investigators say Brinsley was an emotionally disturbed loner who started off his rampage by shooting and wounding an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore. He later killed himself.
The police killings ramped up emotions in the already-tense national debate over police conduct. Since Ramos and Liu were killed, police in New York have investigated at least 70 threats made against officers, and more than a dozen people have been arrested.
Liu’s funeral was scheduled for Sunday with a Chinese ceremony led by Buddhist monks to be followed by a traditional police ceremony with eulogies led by a chaplain. Burial will follow at Cypress Hills Cemetery.
The 32-year-old officer had been on the police force for seven years and had gotten married two months before he died. His widow, Pei Xia Chen, spoke tearfully days after the shooting.
Liu’s funeral arrangements were delayed so relatives from China could travel to New York.
Uniformed officers from across the country were among the first in line Saturday at Liu’s wake. About 20 officers from the Los Angeles Police Department traveled to Brooklyn to pay their respects to the fallen policeman.
“When it happens here, it happens to us,” LAPD Officer Hannu Tarjamo said. “It doesn’t matter if it happens here, or in LA, or in Louisiana. It’s an act of savagery that should be condemned by society.”
Luda Kaplan, 67, of Brooklyn, carried a handmade sign with a heart and “NYPD” on it as she stood across the street from the funeral home. She said her son-in-law was an NYPD officer for 20 years.
“When he left every morning at 4:30 a.m., we didn’t know if he would come home,” she said.
From The Associated Press