New York City

‘A Gentle Giant': Hundreds Mourn NYPD Officer Brian Mulkeen, Killed in the Line of Duty, as a Forever Hero

Brian Mulkeen, 33, was shot and killed during a struggle with a suspect in the Bronx early Sunday

What to Know

  • Hundreds of NYPD officers, friends and family members paid tribute to Brian Mulkeen, the 33-year-old cop who died early Sunday
  • Mulkeen was killed by friendly fire during a struggle with a suspect Sunday; he was the 2nd NYPD officer killed by friendly fire this year
  • In more than 6½ years with the NYPD, Mulkeen made 270 arrests — many of them for felonies, including possession of illegal guns

An NYPD officer killed by friendly fire -- the second this year -- during a struggle with an armed man was honored at his funeral Friday as a hero, as hundreds upon hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to the young man in blue.

Friends and family of Brian Mulkeen gathered at Sacred Heart Church in Monroe for the funeral of the officer, who was killed by two police bullets while struggling with an armed suspect on Sunday in the Bronx. He was 33 years old. 

A flood of blue -- decorated, uniformed police officers and city officials, along with family and friends of Mulkeen -- stood in salute as a motorcycle procession made its way, lights flashing, to the church Friday morning. Bagpipers followed, marching to the beat of a drum, then solemn silence as a half-dozen officers carried Mulkeen's flag-draped casket into the building for his final farewell. 

"We know we are laying to rest a hero," Mayor de Blasio said. 

Mulkeen, who joined the department in January 2013, was working with a plainclothes anti-crime unit when he and his partners encountered the armed man. The man ran off and officers chased him. Mulkeen and he started to wrestle. Guns went off -- 15 shots were fired in about a 10-second span by six officers during what police have described as a chaotic confrontation.

Mulkeen, hit in the head and torso, died. The armed man was also killed.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill has called the situation “an absolute tragedy.” He offered a somber social media tribute ahead of the funeral Friday, saying of Mulkeen, "It was his job to pursue the most violent, dangerous criminals in New York City, to put his own safety on the line every day and night, and to make all the people we serve safer. And he was great at it." 

In more than 6½ years with the NYPD, Mulkeen made 270 arrests — many of them for felonies, including possession of illegal guns. 

"He was a gentle giant and I mean that. When it was time to be on the street to be the police, he was. When it was time to be compassionate and have a heart, he did," Mulkeen's captain, Jeff Heilig, said.

He left a high-paying finance job to become a police officer because, as friend Daniel Tucker wrote on Facebook, he "felt like he wasn't doing enough with his life."

Mulkeen graduated from Fordham University's business school and worked as a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch in New York from 2007 to 2009, the company said.

In his Facebook post, Tucker recounted Mulkeen's departure from the company. He remembered his friend calling him and saying: "Tuck! I couldn't wait to tell you, I quit my job at Merrill Lynch and I'm gonna be a cop!"

Mulkeen, who lived in Yorktown Heights with his girlfriend, an officer in a different Bronx precinct, started his law enforcement career as a dispatcher for the police department in Tuxedo, a town near Monroe. 

Mulkeen's death echoed that of Det. Brian Simonsen, who was killed by friendly fire in February. Simonsen was hit once in the chest by crossfire as he and six other officers fired 42 shots at a robbery suspect who charged toward them and mimicked pulling the trigger of a fake handgun.

Once again, after the latest friendly fire tragedy, O'Neill had a clear message.

"Make no mistake, we lost the life of a courageous public servant solely due to a violent criminal who put the lives of the police and all the people we serve in jeopardy," he said earlier this week.

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