Mayor, NYC Mourn Slain NYPD Officers With Moments of Silence, Dimmed Lights

Iconic New York City landmarks including the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree dimmed their lights in honor of two NYPD officers who were ambushed and killed.

"Let us take these moments to reflect on our common values, and rededicate ourselves to moving this city forward together," Mayor Bill de Blasio asked New Yorkers in a statement. 

The lights were dimmed from 9 p.m. to 9:05 p.m. Tuesday. Other buildings participating included the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Four Times Square and One Bryant Park.

Earlier, de Blasio held a moment of silence at City Hall Tuesday for officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot and killed as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn.

De Blasio asked City Hall and the community to bow their heads in silence at 2:47 p.m., the moment Ramos and Liu were shot in the head as they sat in their patrol car by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who later ran into a nearby subway station and took his own life.

The mayor emphasized the need for solidarity during this time of mourning, and remembered the officers for their sacrifice.

"Officer Ramos and Officer Liu believed in something," de Blasio said. “They gave their lives for the belief that we could do better, that we could come together."

De Blasio said the city was in pain and that it needed to work through the pain to bring the police force and the community together.

"We need to protect and respect our police just as our police protect and respect our communities," he said.

The mayor's tributes to the officers come a day after he visited the families of the men and called on protesters to halt demonstrations over police treatment of people of color until funerals can be held for Ramos and Liu. Protests had been held daily since early December, when a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

"It's important that regardless of people's viewpoints that everyone step back," de Blasio said at a Police Athletic League event Monday. "It's a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in all due time."

Despite the mayor's request, some protesters hit the streets again Tuesday night. One group of demonstrators near the Plaza Hotel at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue said the city cannot silence their voices and chanted, "If we don't get no justice, the movement can't stop." 

Protester Jed Brandt said, "Why didn't we stop business when they murdered Eric Garner?" 

Terry Cassidy observed the protests and said it showed a loss of "moral direction" and compassion at a sensitive time. His remarks led to an argument with a demonstrator who told him. "You're not a black person. You wouldn't understand."

Earlier Tuesday, de Blasio and his wife visited the makeshift memorial on the street where the two officers were killed. De Blasio stood silently in front of the flowers and candles placed at Tompkins and Myrtle avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant in memory of the two officers.

The mayor said at the PAL event that the entire city is feeling the deaths of officers Ramos and Liu deeply, but "no one is feeling it more than two families."

"These families are now our families and we will stand by them; they're suffering an unspeakable pain right now," de Blasio said after visiting the families' homes with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Ramos was a married father who recently celebrated his 40th birthday and had two teenagers; his funeral is scheduled for Saturday. Liu was married two months ago and he and his wife had talked about building a family; he was his parents' only son. A funeral date for Liu hasn’t been announced.

The man who shot the officers, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, wrote in an Instagram post that he was "putting wings on pigs" and referenced the police-involved deaths of the 43-year-old Garner on Staten Island and Brown in Missouri. Police believe Brinsley, who fatally shot himself in a subway station after killing the officers, was motivated by anger at police. Video captures him watching a protest in Union Square earlier this month, though authorities say he was not participating in it.

Authorities describe Brinsley as an extremely disturbed individual whose posts on social media reflect both self-despair and anti-government sentiment. Brinsley's family told authorities he tried to commit suicide a year ago. He showed up to his ex-girlfriend's home in Baltimore Saturday before heading to Brooklyn and shot her after she talked him out of shooting himself, officials said. She remained hospitalized Tuesday in serious but stable condition.

Investigators also continue to look into Brinsley's whereabouts once he arrived in Brooklyn. Surveillance video captures him walking outside Atlantic Center Terminal with a white plastic bag containing what authorities believe to be the gun he used to kill the two officers, and officials ask anyone who may have seen him to contact police. Authorities say there are about two and a half hours between when that video was captured and when he shot the officers, and in an effort to provide the utmost closure possible to the victims' families, they want to close the gap.

Several officials, including the head of the NYPD's biggest union, former mayor Rudy Giuliani, for whom Bratton served as police chief in the 1990s, and former Gov. George Pataki have criticized the mayor in the wake of the officers' deaths and ongoing protests against grand jury decisions not to indict police in the Garner and Brown cases. Critics argue de Blasio has not done enough to support police, and some NYPD officers turned their backs to him when he went to the hospital where the officers were taken the night of the shooting.

On Monday, de Blasio said there's so much pain it's difficult to make sense of the situation, but said, "an attack on them is an attack on all of us."

Unrest has beset the city since the grand jury's decision Dec. 3 not to indict the NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Garner. Hundreds of people have been arrested in the mostly peaceful protests that followed the decision. Two officers were assaulted during a Dec. 13 protest on the Brooklyn Bridge, and nearly half a dozen people have been arrested in connection with that attack on the NYPD.

The executions in Brooklyn -- and the shooter's apparent motive of police outrage -- have stoked fears that any gains made in the protests would be lost.

"It sullies the opportunity for us to make inroads to build the relationships we need to build to get the trust back," he said. "This hurts."

-- Checkey Beckford contributed to this report. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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