Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that New Yorkers should set aside protests until after the funerals of the two police officers who were shot and killed in an ambush over the weekend.
The mayor made the call at a luncheon of the Police Athletic League charity two days after a gunman killed Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in their squad car in Brooklyn. The killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had ranted against police on social media accounts.
The ambush deepened tensions between police and the mayor, who had said it was “painful” when a grand jury declined to indict an officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Officers turned their backs on de Blasio at a press conference on Saturday night after Ramos and Liu were gunned down.
“It’s a time to step back and just focus on these families,” de Blasio said at the luncheon. “I think it’s time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in due time.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he had spoken to leaders of all five of the city’s police unions, and that they were also “standing down in respect for our fallen members until after the funerals.”
A funeral for Ramos will be held Saturday, Bratton announced. Funeral arrangements for Liu were pending. De Blasio and Bill Bratton visited the families of both men on Monday. “They are in tremendous pain,” the mayor said.
Brinsley shot himself to death after killing the officers. He shot his ex-girlfriend earlier Saturday in Baltimore, then took a bus to New York.
Investigators said Monday they are still trying to piece together what Brinsley was doing for about two and a half hours before the shooting, but Bratton said he that was believed to have acted alone. Robert Boyce, the chief of detectives, said that investigators had recovered Brinsley’s cellphone, and that on it was video Brinsley took as a spectator of a protest in Union Square Park on Dec. 1.
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