Jason Rivera

Fallen Cop's Widow Blasts Manhattan DA in Eulogy: ‘The System Continues to Fail Us'

Jason Rivera was killed Jan. 21 while responding to a domestic disturbance in Harlem

NBC Universal, Inc.

The widow of fallen NYPD Det. Jason Rivera gave a tear-filled eulogy at his funeral Friday - but she saved her sharpest remarks for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his controversial prosecution guidelines.

"The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service," Dominique Luzuriaga told a packed St. Patrick's Cathedral full of police, dignitaries and local leaders — including Bragg.

"I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he's watching you speak through me right now," Luzuriaga said to a thunderous standing ovation from the pews. "I'm sure all of our blue family is tired too.

"The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore," a heartbroken Dominique Luzuriaga said in a tearful memorial to her fallen husband.

"But I promise - we promise - that your death won't be in vain."

The powerful and devastating moment from the grieving widow brought the crowd in the packed cathedral, including the clergy, to their feet, applauding for 36 seconds.

Though DA for less than a month, Bragg has become a lightning rod for controversy over policies set out early in his administration, mandating that prosecutors not charge some crimes (including resisting arrest in some circumstances), and automatically lower felonies to misdemeanors in some cases (like certain armed robberies).

New NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell has publicly questioned the logic behind those policies, and multiple candidates for governor have pledged to remove him from office if they are elected. Gov. Kathy Hochul, running for re-election, told the New York Post this week that she knew "full well" her authority to remove Bragg from office, and that while she didn't want to undermine the will of the people, she was looking at all the options for prosecuting cases his office would not.

After Keechant Sewell questioned whether new reforms from the Manhattan District Attorney would help or hinder officers and crime victims, Alvin Bragg on Monday defended his vows to seek alternatives to jail for certain crimes. NBC New York's Jonathan Dienst reports.

While the accused killer of Det. Rivera and Det. Mora did have a criminal past, he had no recent run-ins with the law and was not out on bail.

Bragg, who had no involvement with the officers' killer, responded in a statement that he and his office will "vigorously" prosecute cases in which cops are harmed.

“I am grieving and praying for Detective Rivera and Officer Mora today and every day, and my thoughts are with their families and the NYPD. Violence against police officers will never be tolerated. My office will vigorously prosecute cases of violence against police and work to prevent senseless acts like this from ever happening again," Bragg said in a statement after the funeral.

Earlier this week, Bragg said his message about leniency for some gun offenders is the exception, not the rule.

NBC New York's Jonathan Dienst reports.

Democrats like State Senate Majority Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Leader Carl Heastie have said they do not believe any changes are needed, and have said they're not convinced the laws are the reason for rising crime.

However, Democratic candidate for governor Tom Suozzi disagrees.

"Instead of handcuffing criminals, we are handcuffing judges and cops from keeping violent offenders off the streets," Suozzi said.

Republican gubernatorial candidates have also been critical of the changes.

"This no-cash law is a direct line A to B. When they passed it, violent crime went up. When they defunded the police, violent crime went up. When they scapegoated police, violent crime went up," said Rob Astorino.

"Everyone knows what needs to get done here. Everyone is desperate for it because they want to save the city," said fellow GOP candidate Lee Zeldin.

The legislative leaders did not return requests for comment, perhaps allowing a grieving widow to have the final word this day.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us