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Hundreds of police officers packed a Queens, New York, church Saturday while thousands more stood somberly outside to remember NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, who was fatally shot with his partner one week earlier. The funeral — a silent sea of officers in blue — attracted high-profile dignitaries, including Vice President Joe Biden, who was cheered when he called the New York Police Department “the finest ... in the world” because of the sacrifices of its force.
Ramos, a 40-year-old married father of two, and his partner, Wenjian Liu, were gunned down on a Brooklyn street on Dec. 20 as they sat in their patrol car. The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who police say had posted anti-police and anti-government sentiments on social media, later killed himself. "When an assassin's bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of the entire nation," Biden said in a eulogy at a morning service at Christ Tabernacle Church.
Others who spoke, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and church leaders of Christ Tabernacle, where Ramos attended, all said they were touched by how much Ramos adored his wife, Maritza, and his two boys, Justin and Jaden.
He was also devoted to his faith, and was studying to become a chaplain. He "didn't just have a Bible in his locker, he lived it in his heart," Biden said. "He was a cop for all the right reasons."
Bratton later appointed Ramos as an honorary chaplain of his precinct and posthumously promoted both Liu and Ramos to detective. "Our cops are people," Bratton said. "When we see each other, we'll heal. Wouldn't that be the ultimate honor for officers Ramos and Liu — that they helped us heal?"
The murder of the officers stalled weeks of protests in New York, but after the killings of Ramos and Liu, the NYPD criticized de Blasio for not doing more to alleviate the ill-will that some protesters in the city have expressed against police. Many officers outside of Ramos’ funeral turned their backs on the mayor Saturday as he spoke from inside the church and it was broadcast on large, outdoor screens.
But Cuomo praised the NYPD for handling protests in a civilized manner during the past month. “The NYPD protected the right of freedom of speech even though they themselves were the target of false and hateful tirades by some,” Cuomo said, adding that “75,000 police officers statewide have your back every step of the way.”
Some of those officers traveled to Ramos’ funeral from across New York and even as far as Florida and Canada, totaling about 25,000, according to reports. Hundreds were flown in for free by JetBlue, which has also said it would fly Liu’s family from China for his funeral. The details of his burial have not been announced.
Justin Ramos, who wore his father's police jacket to the funeral, expressed condolences to the Liu family at his father's wake the day before. "What happened to my father and Officer Liu was a great tragedy," Justin said Friday. "Dad, I'm forever grateful of the sacrifices you made to provide for me and Jaden."
Breaking News Emails
- Thousands of Police Attend Funeral for Slain NYPD Officer (Gallery)
- Thousands Attend Wake for Slain NYPD Officer (NBC New York)
- 'Rest In Peace, Dad': Son of Slain NYPD Officer Praises Father
— Elisha Fieldstadt